Monday, October 23, 2006

A Beginners Guide To Setting Up A Successful Online Store - Ecommerce

Online selling is by no means a simple task. To sell products online not only requires making use of high end marketing strategies but also involves lots of planning. This article is meant for those of you who intent to start an online store. It is intended to give you a fair idea of what you would need to do and what you need to avoid while planning an online selling business.

The following are the various steps that you would need to take in order to open a successful online store

1.) Designing a website that sells

The first most important aspect of online selling is to have a professional looking website that is designed to sell. You can go about creating the website from code up using web designers or simply go for readymade website templates. If you are purchasing website templates, be sure to go for templates that are professionally designed and have the option of shopping carts. Buying templates from providers who offer allied services like template customization, web hosting; SEO etc would be even better. Some template providers like '' offer allied services irrespective of where you actually purchased the template from. To get a rough idea of how your site should be designed you can take hints from successful discount online stores like, '' and ''.

2.) Hosting your store online

There are many factors that you need to take into consideration before selecting your web host when it comes to online selling. Some of the major factors are discussed as follows.

a.) Secure servers

Firstly you got to make sure if your web host offers you with SSL encryption which is very important for secure money transactions online. Most web hosting companies would offer you with SSL secure server facilities along with a regular package whereas a few would charge you an extra amount for the service.

b.) Up time guarantees

Your business is only as good as it remains online. Make sure to go for web hosting service providers who promise you an uptime guarantee of 99 %. Also check to see as to how they back up their data and what kind of back up systems they have in place in case of emergencies.

c.) Private CGI-BIN

A CGI-BIN directory is a location on your web server where you can upload your binary scripts or interactive programs. This is very important for payment processing and shopping cart management. So be sure that the hosing company gives you a private CGI BIN directory.

d.) Web logs and web statistics

Web logs and statistics are vital for your online business. Studying the web logs can give you much needed information about your customers and your sales records. Understanding your customer behavior can help you retain customers and attract new customers.

e.) Customer support

Get as much information about the hosting company's support policies and the type of support they offer. Go for web hosting companies that offer 24/7 customer support.

f.) References

Most web hosts promise you lots of goodies but may not live up to it. Make sure to test the web host's credibility by asking them for references. The existing customers of the hosting company can give your first hand information on the service that you can expect to get.

In addition to this you should also look for services that offer you Mysql database and PHP scripting, unlimited emails and a minimum space of 10GB.

3.) Deciding on shopping carts

If you are selling more than a handful of products then having a shopping cart on your site is a good idea. You have three major options of getting yourself an online shopping cart. First one is buying a shopping cart software program; the second is using services of an ASP and the third is programming it yourself.

Your best option as a beginner would be to go for ASP services. These services are cheap and come with flexible options. As time passes and you online business develops, you can hire programmers to design yourself a customized shopping cart or buy shopping cart software programs that can be set up in your server. Some good ASP's that offer shopping cart services are 'SecureNetShop' ( and 'GoEmerchant' (

Shopping cart software programs are a costly option for beginners and can cost you anything between $ 150 - $ 800. Some good shopping cart software programs are 'shopfactory 6' ( and 'storefront' (

One more option as already discussed above is making use of ecommerce website templates. These ecommerce templates have pre installed shopping cart systems and can help you set up a store in minutes. Some of these template providers also offer template customization services that would allow you to get your ordinary templates in selling modules.

4.) Deciding on how to accept payments

No matter what the speculation, credit cards are still the best way to accept payments. So make sure that your online business has facilities to accept credit cards. There was a time when you had to have a merchant account from a bank or financial institution to process credit card payments. But today there are enough options available that allow you to accept credit card payments even without a merchant account.

Paypal ( is perhaps the best payment gateway and has no initial joining fees. Their service fees, per-transaction is very low and they allow you to accept payments from all over the world. In addition to Paypal some other good payment gateways are '2checkout' (, 'clickbank' ( and 'paysystems' (

Payment options other than credit cards

It is by no means necessary that all your customers will have credit cards. As a matter of fact many of your customers don't have credit cards, many don't like to use credit cards, many have credit card phobias and the remaining may not wish to share their credit card information online. Under such a situation it would be best for you to provide alternate payment options.

Internet checks

Internet checks are as popular as credit cards when it comes to paying online. Internet checks are comparatively safer and are best if your customers are from international destinations. This technique would involve your customer's to make payments by an online blank check provided by an internet check service provider. This information is sent to the service provider for authorization. The merchant can also print the check on his printer immediately afterwards. Some good service providers who can offer you internet check services are paybycheck ( and cross-check (

In addition to internet checks there are some other options of accepting online payments like money orders and electronic checks. But these methods are suitable only if your customers are from nearby locations.

The best way to decide your payment options is analyzing your customer behaviors. You can also have online check boxes or feedback forms on your website to collect information about your customer's payment preferences and act accordingly.

5.) Promoting your online store

No promotion equals to no sales. You can promote your store using online marketing strategies like search engine optimization, email marketing, banner advertisements and affiliate marketing among others. While promoting your business you got to make sure to stay clear of any kind of illegal methods like spamming, cloaking etc. Your promotion activities should create a positive awareness about your online store that leads to trust building.

6.) Assuring your Customers

The customer is the king and just as in any other type of business here again you need to give your customer what he wants. To do this you got to be sure of your customer's preferences. Basically you need to address the following doubts that your customers are likely to have in their mind while buying online

a.) Is my credit information safe?
b.) How will the products be delivered to me and how long will it take?
c.) Are their any additional costs associated with the item?
d.) What kind of guarantees come with the product?
e.) Are there any discounts if I purchase multiple goods?
f.) What kind of customer service does the online shop have?
g.) What happens in case the goods are damaged or of low quality?

These questions in particular and many more questions in general can arise in the minds of your customers depending on the type of your products and your online store reputation. You can address these issues by providing valuable information in your FAQ section. Providing an online live chat on your website would be a great way to deal with your customer queries. There are many services that offer free online chat software programs; for instance 'boldchat' (

Even after all this is over there is no word like 'remaining stagnant' in online marketing. You got to keep on moving and adapting yourself to newer technologies and better marketing techniques to stay ahead and abreast of all those pesky competitors. is an information portal that offers quality information on topics like outsourcing, mortgage, education, email marketing, affiliate marketing, hotels and travel.

Excuse Me, Are You Wasting Traffic? - Ecommerce

The largest cost and concern of an internet business is customer acquisition; traffic. Both quantity and quality of traffic directly determines the succes of an internet business. By the fundamental nature of traffic to an online business,one cannot afford to waste it.

So how does traffic wastage occur?

Customers are acquired by driving prospects to your virtual point of sale. At this point, usually a web page, the prospects are engaged to take the desired response. The desired response varies from change of attitude for a newsletter, to purchase of a product for a sales webpage.

This desired response occurs towards the end of the Pschology of Search. Prospect searches particular information, they see something that interests them, they view it and then they decide its relevance to them. They then take the most appropriate action, click the back button or take the desired action.

Generally speaking, Click through Rate (CTR) average 2% for internet marketing. This would be the average for Search engines, Pay per Clicks (PPC) all the way to Free classified Ads and banners. Of course for each specific media it varies significantly. However for illustration purposes lets use 2% CTR.

So, only 2% of prospects flagged down stop to give attention to be engaged. These prospects are interested. Of every 100 of this interested prospects, only 1% may be converted to take the desired response the first time.

Eric Mollink of had a real experience of this numbers. He says , they made a killer grab attention email which sent the prospects directly to their website. The mail was sent at midnight and by morning the had 400 hits, a 40% response rate. But no one signed for their program. And there was no way of knowing who the visitors were. had they been able to follow up with the 400,based on previous records, they would have closed at last 30% of the 400.

In essence, taking the previous assumed example, for every 10,000 people that see an Ad or Listing, only 200 will give attention enough to engage them. And the CR would stand at 1% i.e 2 sales or subscriptions.

After being able to get the attention of 200 prospects, 198 will be lost.

Reasons for not acting as desired vary widely. Though it would be correct to say a number were not sold. Meaning some prospects were convinced but not converted. They consequently did not respond as desired due to overcome-able objections. Those converted are those in a sellable state of mind at the time.

Remember sales is 90% emotion and 10% logic. If both strings are not methodically, systematically and sufficiently harped on, there is no sale.

Unfortunately internet presentation are unlike face to face sales presentation, where the pitch is actively adapted to the prospect's moods(emotions) and objections(logic).

Therefore huge looses of engaged prospects will always occur due to this inflexibility. And once a potential customer is lost, they are gone, probably forever. You will then have lost precious traffic. To get them again, if ever, you will need to pay for them again, if using PPC.

Repeated contact or follow up on prospects may actually increase the total CR and consequently sales. Follow up allows a 2nd, 3rd... chance to find a prospect in a sellable state of mind.

For first time buyers, it gives 2nd ,3rd... chance to sell them again on a different product. This increases the value of the customer from one product a year to two products a year.

The best means of follow up in the internet is email. A mailing list of your prospects makes it cheaper to market to them a 2nd, 3rd... time. It also increases the chances of selling more of them, a higher CR.

With this kind of opportunity, advantages further reflect on profitability. This is simply due to the fact that there is no further cost associated with customer acquisition every time there is need to to do a follow up. With customer acquisition costs down, there is significant reduction in the cost of doing business, resulting in higher profits.

Otherwise, with no mailing list, everytime you would want to do a follow up you would pay for the prospect. Everytime you introduce a new product to your first time buyers you would pay.

Email capture is therefore no trivial matter.

Email capture is the ability of your site to get name and email address of your prospect.

Indeed you will find successful internet businesses owning a mailing list and doing some sort of publishing.

Predictability of income of a site depends on number of customers, as well as the trust the customer have on that site. Numbers of customers are developed by CTR and CR. Trust on the other hand is not easily developed on the first sitting.

Repeat contact does offer a platform to subtly create this trust.

Publishing for mailing purposes may be a reservation for some. However email capture dosen't necessarily translate into publishing of an e-zine or a newsletter. There other ways of warming prospects to an offer. Use of sweepstakes, low price and promotion alerts etc. all of which are not periodicals. These can assist in building credibility and trust. At the same time, if well done, keeps your p[product "top of the mind" in the prospects mind. Next time the product is mentioned, it is no longer a stranger to them.

With an email list from email capture a chance is given to further develop perceived value of the product. This can incredibly increase sales. Majority of prospects take time to get convinced. They take more time to get converted. With their email addresses one can follow up on them until they are sold. Best of all there are cost of contacting the prospect, of course that is if the list is not rented.

In summary email capture allows for email marketing which can increase CR and profits, both by increasing sales as well as eliminating wastage of traffic and repeated purchase of same prospects.

Resources for opt-in mailing list for rentals such as PostMaster Direct are used by large organization. Other such resources include Me-mail,, Bullet mail, E-target and Ht mail.

Similarly there are innovative email capture systems. Below is an example of a free email capture system exclusivelly for internet business people, www.Opportunity.Com. Such a system can be used by netpreneurs to multiply their "paid for prospects". At the same time they could build a reasonable mailing list accesible for targeted email marketing.

Email capture is both an effective means of avoiding traffic wastage and if used correctly, an effective marketing tool.

Copyright (c) 2004 Mark Kimathi

Below is Mark Kimathi's recomendation for email capture,

Ten Reasons Why Online Surveys Are The Future of Marketing - Ecommerce

Customers are tough cookies. They're extremely media aware
and increasingly cynical - it's a clever marketeer who can
get under their skin. Online surveys reinvent the
traditional format and offer a unique way of interaction -
all the benefits of the internet without the programming.

Here are ten reasons why they may be the silver bullet
marketeers' need, complete with examples supplied by Martin
Day, managing director of Survey Galaxy - one of a new
breed of websites making online surveys quicker and cheaper

1. It's cheap as buttons

Select the right survey website and creating surveys can be
free of any charge and the cost to publish is minimal.
Useful information harvested from surveys can be reused and
repackaged in other marketing and PR for use in press
outlets making it a very efficient form of information

2. It's easy peasy

Anyone can develop an online survey. Survey sites allow
people who are interested in the benefits of surveys, rather
than technicalities, to side-step the required programming
skills and create relevant up-to-the-minute surveys,
instantly - surveys that are even easier to complete than
they are to make.

3. Anyone can play

Once the survey is online it's a simple step to promote it,
either through email (with a link enclosed), via a link
from a website or referenced by other forms of advertising.
Anyone who has the link can be connected instantly to the
survey, at a time that's convenient to them, 24x7.

4. We've all got an opinion - and we like to give it

Customers like surveys - they're not seen as spam, but as
an empowering opportunity to make their voice heard and a
chance to have an impact on a brand. They can be
particularly good for broaching sensitive subjects with
concerned employees; a survey asking a workforce on their
opinion of change allows the key issues to be raised in a
positive way and encourages employee participation. Online
surveys allow the message to reach each individual and
invite feedback in a manageable form.

5. Get inside their heads

You can lead a customer to an advertisement but you can't
make them think. Surveys actively engage the respondents,
who think about the question before giving their response.

6. Beautiful relationships start here

It needn't all end at the end of the survey - while you
have their attention and are in the mood you can ask if
they want to sign up for more information or a regular
newsletter - making the most of the window when you have
their interest.

7. If you like this, you'll love?

Perhaps one of the strongest elements in a survey is the
ability to make inspired or useful connections instantly
to other areas. By including links within the survey to
websites that offer detailed information you are able to
reinforce the marketing message.

8. Subtly does it

Surveys can be used to associate a product with positive
attributes. By listing the many features of a product and
asking the respondent how important they are, regardless
of their response, the product will be associated with
the features; if they are rated as important the positive
impact is endorsed by the customer.

9. It's not just about selling

A survey is an effective, quick and easy method to
promote and gain acceptance for a difficult proposal;
maybe a public body trying to gain acceptance and support
for a particular scheme. Take the example of a city
trying to gain support from the general public for their
bid to host a future Olympic Games. A survey can explain
each benefit putting the respondent in a much better
position to appreciate what the real advantages are that
might just combat any negative headlines. As well as
promoting the cause, useful feedback is gained that can
be used to fine tune the overall marketing strategy.

10. Fresh topics engage interest

Thinking laterally a lively and imaginative approach to
surveys can provide the 'hook' to engage respondents. The
survey subject can be focused towards a particular group
on a subject close to theirs hearts. The survey's
marketing message can take the form of a simple brand
awareness message by stating that 'this survey was
sponsored by brand name', or by finding a link from the
subject matter to the product - something that is
surprisingly easy and highly effective. Discover the
benefits of including in your website a Public Survey
section as many people who enjoy completing crosswords and
doing word puzzles enjoy completing surveys. Having a
public survey notice board as part of a website is a low
cost and automated method that helps to increase traffic
and establish a loyal and returning following. Unlike
discussion boards there is no opportunity for people to
disrupt the site by inappropriate remarks as the survey
results are displayed in summary form enabling them to
dispense with moderators free and maintenance.

Many of the techniques and a few more to boot are
contained in the following sample survey:-

About Author: Martin Day is owner of Survey Galaxy Ltd.

What Does It Take to Make Money Online? - Ecommerce

What a loaded question! Let's narrow that down a bit and take it from the perspective of someone who wants to work from home and make money online in a home business. That will make it an easier question to answer.
Let's assume you've never had a website, don't know how to get a merchant account, don't know html, and are pretty much stuck with being an expert on sending and receiving email.

What's there for you to do online to make money? Lots, in fact! These days are not at all like a couple of years ago or even six months ago. If I only had all the opportunities to make money online when I started marketing!

Here is a list of things you can do with just a website and a hosting account today:

Sell affiliate products (products like reports, ebooks, hard goods of every conceivable make, model, size, shape and function, and much, much more). Sell services (do you know how big a business being a Virtual Assistant is these days? It's quite amazing what you can do for people without ever meeting them face-to-face, anywhere in the world!) Online auctions (Ebay has made thousands and thousands of people full-time incomes from auctioning collectibles, antiques, and even brand new equipment and gadgets of all imaginable types. You name it, it has been sold on Ebay!) Membership sites: Know of any groups of people that would love to get insider information on virtually any topic? You could make money online with a membership site!

The list is a long one and one I am not prepared to detail here. You have found your way onto the net and if you have been surfing for very long at all you know it is a gigantic super shopping mall. Who to you think is making the most money online? Aside from big corporations, most of the web is made up of sites put up by little businesses people work from home.

I sell information and I love it. Most of the products I sell are other merchants' products. I just drive traffic to my site, provide information, and point to relevant products related to the information I provide people looking for a way to make money online. I love helping people make their first few sales.

After that, they are always hooked and cannot do enough to learn everything there is to know about how to make money online. Many people I have worked with now have a couple to several websites selling everything from reports to hard goods that can be shipped direct to their customers. Most people start out to make money online as affiliates of certain products or authors. This is a great way to get your feet wet and learn what making money online is all about. People then either work to create their own products (which they get 100% of the profits from) or expand their website into other related niches.

Darrell Knox is a writer and entrepreneur with 15 years of home business and marketing experience.Website:

Succeed With Your Own Home Based Business - Ecommerce

An internet business is by far the best way to support yourself if you just cannot stand working for others for less money than you need to survive. It's also the best way to get out of a good paying job that just takes up too much of your precious short life working for someone else.
Let's face it, you probably know someone who has an internet business. Do they look happy to you? Do they complain as much about work and money as you do? Probably not.

This is not to say that you should quit your job and start an internet business. You should start one while you still have your job. Some people complain that this is hard and takes up too much of their free time. In the beginning a internet business is not profitable - you have to work at it like anything else.

Some people eventually go back to work blaming some program or internet business opportunity that wasted their time and didn't work. Unfortunately, the odds are actually that they didn't work hard enough and stick to their dreams. Many people allow themselves to believe that there are no legitimate internet businesses. It's easier to go to work thinking this than to let themselves believe that an internet business is possible, profitable, and liberating.

But if you truly believe there are no good internet businesses, that they are all scams, then what are the thousands of people doing everyday in your hometown driving around during work hours?

You know the ones. The people you see on your day off that are driving around and standing in line in places you frequent on your days off. They can't ALL be on their days off too! You have wondered, just like I did, what it is these people do. I know you have.

Many of them have their own internet business. Many of the people you see at the post office who know the clerks by first name are shipping packages of goods they sold on auction at Ebay or their own websites.

The cars parked in the county clerk's office in your home town. Some are employees there, but not all of them. Many of the people coming and going from that office in your town (during business hours when everyone should be working, right?) are real estate brokers, or no money down buyers and sellers looking up local property information.

Internet business owners are all around you, everyday. The internet business industry is quite literally booming and is getting larger exponentially by the month.

The worst thing you could ever do to yourself, that is a life-altering belief system, is let yourself believe it is all a scam or that there is no room for YOUR creativity and YOUR value as a internet business owner of any kind!

Take me for instance! I own my own internet business and I sell information, business tools for internet business people, and services of all kinds. I work from home. I am one of those people you see during the week driving around town while you wonder what it is I do for a living. Nice to meet you!

Darrell Knox is a writer and entrepreneur with 15 years of home business and marketing experience.Website:

How to Start a Business on the Internet - Ecommerce

So you want to start a business? Good for you. Really, I mean that sincerely. I think about the millions of people that let the thought pass briefly through their minds on he way to work everyday.

The vas majority of people merely toy with the idea at points in their lives when they hate their bosses or their pay or their lack of vacation time. You, on the other hand, are investigating what it takes o start a business. At least you are going to find the answers here and stop wasting time wondering "what if."

It is very easy to start a business if you do it on the internet. You have little overhead involved, no rent, not even products to stock (if you sell electronic goods)!

What's more, there are literally thousands of people marketing other peoples' products as "affiliates." You can literally start a business using other peoples' stock, property, know-how, services, and goods.

I know people who are making astounding amounts of money monthly just selling products that don't even belong to them. I would tell you figures, but you'd never in a million years believe me.

How creative can you be? Well, here's a little story of a guy who started a business online in one of the most unusual ways I have heard of in a long time.

You remember the deck of cards that the U.S. government created with the top 50 most wanted terrorists? Saddam Hussein was the Ace of Spades, if you recall.

Someone I know of got a hold of a distributor for those cards, and asked if they would take orders from him and ship orders to his customers. He then set up a website, joined Google's Adwords program where you pay-per-click on your ad, and made $12,000.00 in ONE WEEK selling decks of cards with terrorists on them as souvenirs!

You think you can't start a business on the internet? Think again! If a guy can make $12,000 a week selling souvenirs, you can certainly find products to sell or even create your own.

Most people start making money online as affiliates. This way you sell other peoples' products and you get a commission for referring sales to them. All you need for this is some great products to affiliate with, a website, a host for your site, and you have everything you need!

Take my site for instance. I sell other peoples' products and services and I love it. If you start a business like mine, there is no need to stock any products, get a merchant account, or deal with customer service. The product owners take care of all that.

Never in the history of mankind has it been easier or cheaper to start a business. If you want it, go for it!

Darrell Knox is a writer and entrepreneur with 15 years of home business and marketing experience.Website:

How Do You Make Money Online? - Ecommerce

If you learn how other people make money online, I mean really study how it's done and ask a lot of questions, there is no reason in the world you cannot make money on the internet as well.

How do people make money with websites? There are literally tens of thousands of things people make money on from the net. From hard goods of all kinds (anything that can be shipped, including cars and boats!) to information and memberships.

People make money selling insurance, car parts, reports on every imaginable topic people want to know more about, selling affiliate products, and even fundraising for charity!

That's right! People make money helping their favorite charities raise money. By creating an in-demand product for a charity to sell to their members, and letting them keep at least 50%, you can make money as a professional fundraiser.

I know someone who makes money selling a dog biscuit and dog food cookbook! That's right, a cookbook for dog lovers to make treats for their pets. I told you! Anything goes on the net as long as there are buyers looking for what you sell.

It's truly mind boggling how some people make money online. You just have to be creative and understand how the net works and how people shop online. You have to know how to get into the search engines so people can find you.

And most of all you need a couple good ideas, or find other people with great ideas and sell THEIR stuff for commission! There is no excuse for failure - the world of internet marketing is your oyster!

There are tons of resource sites that can help you understand every single minute detail of making money online from setting up a website to choosing a hosting service to taking credit cards and filling orders. There's nothing else like it in the world.

I have a site that helps people find ways to make money online. I make money with information products, and help others learn how to make money online doing the same thing.

Some people make money on Ebay auctioning things people are searching for right now all over the world. Still other people sell their time as Virtual Assistants helping busy executives and other business owners complete mundane but important tasks the business owner has no time to do.

With some referrals, over time you can be busier than you ever imagined with clients beating down your door because they heard you do great work at reasonable rates. All this without ever meeting ANY of your clients face-to-face. Working online makes working for people in other countries a snap, as long as you speak the language, it's no different than if the person you sell to or work with lives right down the street.

Bottom line: You CAN make money online if you are the type of person who is a self-starter and motivated to work toward your goals even when the going gets tough.

Darrell Knox is a writer and entrepreneur with 15 years of home business and marketing experience. Website:

Set Yourself Apart From The Ordinary - Ecommerce

I have written at length about the need to anticipate your visitors' needs. I have talked about how the first screen of the homepage needs to connect immediately and directly with the task each visitor has on his or her mind. I have talked about finding the search words and phrases people use to find your site, so you can use these same words on your homepage. And so on and so on.

And I think it is all good advice. When visitors arrive at your site for the first time, the best outcome you can hope for is that they think, "Excellent, I'm in exactly the right place. I can find what I'm looking for right here."

The problem is, the more you write the page to suit the needs of the reader, the less character it has.

There is a danger that you will become like that person at a party who roams from group to group, agreeing with everyone and simply reflecting back everyone's opinions and views. People like that are boring and ultimately very irritating. They never risk expressing opinions of their own.

The same thing can happen with a website. The more you try to please people, the thinner the character of your company or organization becomes.

The web has always been a place where strong views and opinions are highly valued. Think about the newsletters you subscribe to and the discussion lists you take part in. The most valuable contributions are those that express real character, where people take a strong position and are not afraid to express it and stand by it.

So there is a balance here. Yes, write your homepage to appeal to the reader, but also let some of the character of your organization shine through. This doesn't mean adding the mission statement, or shoveling the latest corporate sound bites onto your site. Heaven forbid.

But you can express some character. You can say what you believe. You can take a position and let people know what you stand for, and what you stand against.

The benefit? You'll differentiate your site from others in the same space. You'll stand out from the crowd. You'll be recognized. You'll earn respect for taking a position. You'll catch people's attention. You'll make them want to tell their friends and colleagues about your site.

You don't have to take it to extremes. You simply need to write in a recognizable voice.

Enough to set you apart from the ordinary.

Nick Usborne is a copywriter, author, speaker and advocat of good writing. You can access all his archived newsletter articles on copywriting and writing for the web at his Excess Voice site. You'll find more articles and resources on how to make money as a freelance writer at his Freelance Writing Success site.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Writing Web Pages: Get To The Meat Faster - Ecommerce

Much of my consulting work comprises writing 'Outside Opinion' reports on the sites of large companies and organizations. Sometimes I review just a few pages, sometimes fifty or more.

I'm just finishing one up now and have recognized a thread that is common to many of reports.

Here is what I have noticed: On many sites we are too slow to 'get to the meat'. Too much rambling and introduction on each page.

One of the things I do in each report is create some 'copywriter layouts' of key site pages. I do my critique, and then provide some sample page designs to give the client an idea of how I see each page; the key messages, the key actions etc.

But here's the thing: I create just the first screen, not the whole page.

And within that first screen I make sure that everything that NEEDS to be said is said. I make sure the key messages are prominent. And I include one or more directions or calls-to-action.

How do I manage to get all the important points within one screen? I focus on what the visitor is expecting and hoping to find on the page. For that first screen I spend a lot of time trying to anticipate the frame of mind of the visitor. I know they are coming to the page with some task in mind. They are looking for something, some kind of answer. I either provide the answer as high up on the page as possible, or give clear choices and direction to help them click through to where they'll find what they want.

When you look at it that way, one screen isn't such a small space. It becomes small only when too much attention is given to promoting, explaining and applauding the company or organization. It becomes crowded when too many stakeholders are fighting for space.

And yes, I provide links starting with active verbs and get them into that first screen as well.

If someone finds what they want right there, I want to allow them to click through without having to scroll and search.

If someone is still one or two levels away from finding what they need, I want to get them on their way as quickly as possible.

When you keep the visitor at the front of your mind...when you recognize and understand what they are looking'll serve them best by getting to the 'meat' as quickly as possible and providing them with the links they need.


Article Resource: Find out more about my Outside Opinion service here.

Nick Usborne is a copywriter, author, speaker and advocat of good writing. You can access all his archived newsletter articles on copywriting and writing for the web at his Excess Voice site. You'll find more articles and resources on how to make money as a freelance writer at his Freelance Writing Success site.

Your Site is all Direct Marketing - Ecommerce

This may not be a popular view, but I think writing a web site is very similar to writing a piece of direct mail. I'm not talking about smash-and-grab fliers. I'm talking about those large mailings with brochures, a four or eight-page letter and a reply card.

And no, I'm not saying that the experience or the approach is identical. There are numerous differences too. But the similarities are significant, and can guide us in how we write for the web.

Here are some similarities:

1. We can guess that our conversion rate will be pretty low. In the area of one to two percent. More, if we do a good job.

2. We have very little control over the sequence in which people will read the information we provide.

With a direct mail piece, people might start with the letter, or the brochure. And who knows where their attention will settle first within either one. You never really know which part of a direct mail brochure people will read first. And the same goes for a web site. (If you have ever sat in on a web site usability test, you know what I mean. Sometimes it's hard to figure out why people choose particular links or pathways through a site.)

3. We know we are losing readers at every stage of the process and have to write in a way that is clear, engaging and compelling.

This is very true for both direct mail and web sites. Of the hundred people who start reading, we will lose the interest and attention of almost all of them before the 'task' is completed.

4. We can identify significant 'danger points' when it comes to losing a reader.

In a direct mail piece we know we lose readers at the end of the end of page one of a four-page letter for instance. Or after someone has completed reading a page in a brochure.

Online, we know we are losing readers when they read or skim a page and don't click forward one step closer to completing a task.

5. We know that we lose a significant number of people at the point of completing an application or purchase. They get that far and then back away at the last moment. This is very true for both direct mail and the web.

Now for one very significant difference between direct mail writers and web writers.

Direst mail copywriters KNOW all this and write accordingly.

- A direct marketing copywriter pays very close attention to the end of each page in a letter, writing in a way to pull people forward to the next page.

- A direct marketing copywriter looks through years of test results to write an application or purchase form that will yield the best results. (As does the DM designer.)

- A direct marketing copywriter writes in a way that is deliberately and carefully both compelling and informative.

A complex product takes several pages to sell. Knowing that, a copywriter needs to cover a lot of information for readers with a very fragile level of attention. The writer has to write in a way that is fluid, engaging, informative and persuasive.

- A direct marketing copywriter knows that key benefits and offers need to be repeated throughout the package. When you know that most readers don't read every word, you need to repeat key messages so that everyone gets to read them more than once.

What's my point?

I have two points to make.

First, there is a degree of sophistication in writing good direct mail that is rarely evident online yet. DM writers understand the nature of their medium and their readers in minute detail. At least, the good ones do.

However, online, while the quality of writers may be good, the sophistication with which they apply their craft just can't compete right now.

For instance, it's very rare to find a web page where you can see how carefully the writer and designer have worked together to maximize the number of people who click forward to another page.

In time, all this will change. It's just a factor of the relative immaturity of the online medium.

My second point is that DM copywriters live or die by results. Every single day. And to give themselves the best chance of success, they study the successful work of others, and they obsess over test results. DM marketers test everything and are always learning.

This is the second element that hasn't got up to speed online. It's so easy to test everything and anything online. We should be doing more of that and adding to our knowledge of what works best in given situations.

By way of wrapping this up, online writers can learn a great deal from DM writers. (The same is true for online designers, who can learn a lot from DM designers.)

Both media depend on action, repeated actions - whether it is paper pages being turned or links being clicked.

Good DM writers are masters at driving action. We should learn more from them.

Nick Usborne is a copywriter, author, speaker and advocat of good writing. You can access all his archived newsletter articles on copywriting and writing for the web at his Excess Voice site. You'll find more articles and resources on how to make money as a freelance writer at his Freelance Writing Success site.

Two Pillars of a Successful Web Site - Ecommerce

For a web site to get close to fulfilling its potential, you need absolute clarity on two points.

First, achieve clarity on what your site's core purpose is

Is to provide information? Is it to complete direct sales? Is it to drive prospects to pick up the phone and call you? Is it to start a free trial? To register?

The more companies I work with, especially larger ones, the more apparent it becomes to me that very few sites have absolute clarity of purpose.

All too often, too many different stakeholders impose a variety of different 'purposes'. The result? A site that is not clearly focused. A site that appears disorganized and complicated to its visitors. A site that wanders, meanders and ultimately fails - because none of the writers or designers really know what they should be doing.

When and if you do achieve clarity as to the purpose of your site, everything becomes easier.

You can look at every page, every heading, every line of content, every link and image...and ask yourself this simple question: Is this content working hard enough to achieve our purpose?

If it isn't, change it, or dump it. It's as simple as that.

You may be thinking, "Nick you are so na๏ve. Our business is complex. We have more than one purpose."

That may be. If you are selling high-end hospital equipment, for instance, your site may serve both to drive new sales and also to support existing customers.

That's OK. But make it clear. Make it clear on your home page. Make it obvious to visitors that there are two distinct areas of the site - one for people who already have some of your equipment, and one for those who don't.

Then apply the same discipline to every page in each area. Does the page drive your purpose?

Second, understand what your visitors are hoping to find

I'm written about this before. But without this second pillar in place, your site won't work as hard as it should.

Put simply, you need to understand the expectations of your visitors. Understand why they are coming to your site, what they are hoping to find.

When someone arrives at your site, whatever the landing page, they have a 'pain' or problem they want solving.

If your site is doing its job, it will take that visitor only a couple of moments before they think, "Yes, I can find what I need right here."

When that happens, they become filled with confidence.

It's then your job to help that person achieve their task as quickly and as simply as possible.

Both pillars working together

When your own purpose is clear, and when you meet the expectations of your visitors, everything becomes golden. You both get what you want.

How do you get to this 'golden' place?

Just step back from your site for a while and do some thinking. Get clarity on the purpose of your site. And go back over your site's history to figure out what it was people were hoping for when they arrived.

For sure, not everyone came to your site for exactly the same reason - but maybe 80% came for one of three reasons.

This isn't about achieving perfection. It's about getting as close as you can.

Nick Usborne is a copywriter, author, speaker and advocat of good writing. You can access all his archived newsletter articles on copywriting and writing for the web at his Excess Voice site. You'll find more articles and resources on how to make money as a freelance writer at his Freelance Writing Success site.

The Top 10 E-Commerce Ways to Follow up with Clients - Part 2 - Ecommerce

Did you know that 80% of all sales are made after the 5th contact?

The biggest mistake we make is not following up with our clients regularly. We not only lose the chance to offer other services and products, we lose the chance for satisfied clients' referrals.

Building your practice needs consistent bi-monthly follow-ups.

If you think this takes too much time, follow my lead and delegate some of it where you will spend only 6-8 hours a week. Remember, only marketing and promotion builds income and business, the rest are expenses.

Part one of this article is available at

Here's the top ten ways:

6. Follow up in two steps.

In the first ecommerce follow up, give a fre.e report adding your sparkling signature file as a soft sales piece. In a week, follow this up with your offer. Refer to the report, and then make your one irresistible offer. If I sent a report on what web sites need before contacting a web master, I follow it up with the three-session "telecoaching" program on writing a web site with marketing pizzazz.

One personal coach offered an excerpt from her new book the first time, and followed up with a discount offer for the book.

7. Motivate yourself and your staff with a poster of each month's follow up promotions.

It's great to see your follow up progress. Your promotions can be small or large. You know your' re going to attract new clients because you put out messages that keep you in your audience's minds.

With the help of your assistant, in just two hours, you can send out PR to local papers on a seminar, update email addresses, send an article to the top ten, finish an interview and send to no spam ezines, email your new content to your Web master, and send out new proposals for talks to different organizations.

When you notice these 10-20 actions you take each month, you'll also notice new clients coming each month.

8. Offer teleclasses to attract past, present and new clients.

A good first teleclass can be a question and answer call. Once you survey your groups and discover the top 4-8 questions they want answered, include this information in your teleclass sales letter. Two schools of thought on this--a free 1-hour or a small charge for the first. Without some risk such as $15-$20, you may only attract lookie loos.

Be sure to give clear information on the where, when, and how to register. Offer 800 and Web site registration. Include a mini sales letter-- a paragraph with benefits on your topic, your audience, and then add testimonials from satisfied attendees, as well as the list of sample questions you can answer. While topics are interesting, it's the benefits you write that attract people to the call.

9. Make only one offer per follow up contact.

Each time you send out a fre.e tip or report, place a "special offer" at the bottom of the email before your signature file. The common mistake is to offer too many choices. Make it easy for your contact to "buy."

For one follow up, offer a fre.e or discounted eBook or report at your Web site. When they visit, they will see all you have to offer. For another, offer your ezine. For another, offer a discount on your introductory coaching session. Always include a time limit for your offers.

10. Make your follow up offer enticing.

The biggest mistake coaches and other small business people make is to just list the offer in the subject line. One creativity coach sends me a notice of his upcoming talks and seminars. His subject line says, "Upcoming Seminars by Joe." Does that move you to open the email? Since less than 50% of your lists will open the email, put a big benefit in the subject line with your name near it. "Double your Clients in 5 Months" That perks up my interest, does it yours?

Follow up means giving to your potential clients. When you give, many will give back. They will pass your fre.ebie on to their associates and friends and even keep the information in a file.

Don't think you are bothering your contacts. If they don't want your news, they can opt-out. Thank you's and free gifts keep your name in front of your buyers. It tells them you appreciate them and let's them know what new things you can offer them. Follow up is good business.

Judy Cullins, 20-year book and Internet Marketing Coach, Author of 10 eBooks including "Write your eBook Fast," and "How to Market your Business on the Internet," she offers free help through her 2 monthly ezines, The Book Coach Says...and Business Tip of the Month at and over 140 free articles. Email her at

The Top 10 E-Commerce Ways to Follow up with Clients - Part 1 - Ecommerce

Did you know that 80% of all sales are made after the 5th contact?

The biggest mistake we make is not following up with our clients regularly. We not only lose the chance to offer other services and products, we lose the chance for satisfied clients' referrals. Building your practice needs consistent bi-monthly follow-ups.If you think this takes too much time, follow my lead and delegate some of it where you will spend only 6-8 hours a week. Remember, only marketing and promotion builds income and business, the rest are expenses.

Here's the top ten ways:

1. Keep track of every one who contacts you, in person or by email about coaching or other service.

Treat email addresses like gold. These are already qualified, targeted future clients. Copy and paste their email note, date, and question into Textpad or notepad under the name "potential clients." Print it out and keep in a hard file named the same.

2. Don't throw away email addresses.

When someone connects with you, copy and paste their address into your computer folder called "eLists." Place the address where you think it belongs. Name one file "potential clients." If they are past clients, create another list and call it "past clients." If present clients, make a file for them too. Categorized into groups, you can personalize your note to each one. Every month you'll want contact one of these groups and offer them something special.

3. Keep track of your ezine subscribers' emails separately.

While you may use a company to send out your ezine, you may also want to have that list handy in your own office. My assistant uses shareware program to manage all of my different email lists. Since I only send out my ezine on book coaching and business tip monthly, I follow up in between with a thank you or special offer. It takes less than 3 minutes to send out through text pad.

4. Choose the appropriate follow up message for each group.

For your monthly ezine, you may want to send out a mini "marketing survey." You ask 4-8 questions. For any who takes the time to respond, you offer them a fre.e eBook or report. In one follow up I asked, "What are the 3 top questions you want answered about writing and publishing a book?" My subscribers knew I was thinking about them and appreciated it by signing up for the follow up small cost book coaching marathon teleclass.

People love fre.ebies, so when your follow up offers a fre.e tip or question and answer, your potential clients will see your value.

5. Leverage big results from just a little effort.

Don't waste any information that helps you promote. After you get responses to your mini survey, use them again and again. After you answer the questions, keep them in a folder called Q and A. Create a new web site link and post them as new content for your hungry web site visitors.

When other professionals ask me for an interview for their ezines and sites, I get them via email, answer them and get promoted by others through their ezines and Web sites.

At the same time, I divide these interviews into articles under 1000 words and submit them to opt-in ezines looking for free content.

From just one ezine interview, several high power professionals called me to order books first, then to become business clients.

Don't think you are bothering your contacts. If they don't want your news, they can opt-out. Thank you's and free gifts keep your name in front of your buyers. It tells them you appreciate them and let's them know what new things you can offer them. Follow up is good business.

Part two of this article is available at

Judy Cullins, 20-year book and Internet Marketing Coach, Author of 10 eBooks including "Write your eBook Fast," and "How to Market your Business on the Internet," she offers free help through her 2 monthly ezines, The Book Coach Says...and Business Tip of the Month at and over 140 free articles. Email her at

How To Implement E-Business Solutions Successfully - Ecommerce

Pitfalls of E-business solutions installation process

A large distribution company has decided to use a new online supply chain management solution. The people - those who were supposed to use the system - were quite skeptic about the ability of the system, as they did not have enough knowledge and had very little or no training in using a similar system. As a result, it took over a year for the company to bring the solution to its full operation. Productivity suffered severely. The final implementation cost came out to be several times more than initial budget. A large number of companies are reporting to face similar difficulties with the implementation of their e-business solutions.

The problems that occur while a company tries to implement e-business solutions, most likely, include:

Senior managers do not spend enough time and efforts to learn and understand the solutions. As a result, they have no idea how their workers will adapt to this new solution; and fail to set forth quantifiable objectives for them in terms of efficiency and productivity. The end users do not receive required training. As a result, treat the new solution as an added burden rather than a tool to increase efficiency and productivity. In many cases, IT infrastructure is not up-to-date enough and lacks power to support the new solution. Due to inadequate understanding by the management of the e-business solutions that they plan to adopt, often, the time and money allocated to the project are far less than required. Often the advanced Internet based e-business solutions require to be integrated with portion of old systems that the company is presently using, which in turn, sometimes generates software and system incompatibility. How to avoid pitfalls

E-business solutions are sophisticated systems that encompass significant areas of the company and its relationship with customers. That's why implementation of these projects should be carried out according to detailed plans.


Create a well developed scope. In creating the scope involve all end-users of the solution, not only the technical and business model experts. Get answers to the questions like:

- What is the single most important goal that the company is planning to reach thanks to this solution? - What critical problems the solution is meant to solve? - Are the time and money spent justifies its implementation? - What are the implementation milestones? - How you will know that you have reached those milestones? - Once you got all the relevant people of the company involved in the process, choose an implementation taskforce of experts from all required sections. This team should be responsible for developing the implementation plan. According to this plan assign resources and deadlines. Upon completion of each stage of implementation get senior management involved in order to review the progress.

Education and Training

Education should cover the "why" side of the solution and training the "how" side.

- Identify the people that required getting trained and educated. - Define objectives - Define training and education criteria and select syllabus - Set the evaluation method - Conduct the actual learning process - Assess their progress


Implementation of the solution should take place according to the strict predefined stages.

Upon completion of each stage of implementation get senior management involved in reviewing progress. Conduct reality check!

- How does the solution meet your expectations so far? - Is it doing what it's supposed to do? - Do you need to revise any of your priorities?

Once the implementation is over, set up a thorough post implementation meeting with the taskforce and the relevant end-users. The important thing here is to identify if everybody involved with the project is satisfied with the result or not.

In order to successfully implement e-business solutions, it is very important that you fully understand the technologies behind it. If require hire a consultant and work closely with her. In the long run, this might save you substantial time and money.

Here are other things to remember:

1. E-business solutions are mere tools. Don't expect them to radically change everything that you learnt about business processes.

2. E-business solution implementations like any other project require strict step by step project management.

3. Before considering an e-business solution, make sure that there is a sound business need to get it. E-marketplace, Private exchange, Business portal are few of the e-business solutions that help you attracting new customers and markets. These solutions also allow streamlining many of the vital business processes. In your e-business strategy these solutionsshould be at the top of the list.

4. Keep track of the new technologies and keep an eye to your competitors' e-business strategies. E-business is an extremely fast moving segment; you should be ready for changes and embrace them whenever it's necessary.

Nowshade Kabir is the founder, primary developer and present CEO of A Ph. D. in Information Technology, he has wide experience in Business Consulting, International Trade and Web Marketing. Rusbiz is a Global B2B Emarketplace with solutions to start and run online business. You can contact him at mailto:nowshade [at],

How To Sell Websites Fast ! - Ecommerce

This article will explain in depth the steps needed to sell your website fast in today's marketplace.

Step 1 Establish a Reasonable Price for Your Site

How Much Can I Get?

Before you sell, it's a good idea to know how much the domain is worth. Market prices for domain names can run from a few dollars to thousands of dollars for premium names. The domain name "", for example, sold for $3,000,000 just a few years ago. The key to deciding whether or not to sell a domain name you own is to determine its worth to you if kept and, alternatively, how much a buyer is willing to pay. You may have heard ?rags to riches? type stories of cheap domain names resold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. During the good old days of the Internet boom this was possible. However, things have slowed down considerably since then and there it is very rare to hear of a domain name sold for more than $10,000. However, while big deal domain sales do occur less often in today?s domain market, selling domain names can still be very profitable. Short, catchy, top level domain names are selling for upwards of $5,000 on the domain aftermarket. Other longer, but still usable, names may be worth hundreds of dollars.

Pricing is relative. Relative to your desire to sell, the type and timeliness of bidder inquiries (individual or corporate) and how well the sale price is negotiated. Don't try to fit your domain name into some 'proprietary pricing model'. Every domain name is applicable to a different target market. Determine who your potential buyers are before determining your asking price so you don't over or under estimate that price. Most names (~85%) sell for between 15%-40% of the asking price. Exceptions to this trend:

* Fantastic names - Truly great names can command what a seller requests, unless that amount is unreasonable.

* High asking prices - Names that have ridiculous or greedy asking prices rarely sell. Important!

* Poor names - Names littered with hyphens, adult names, "4"s for the number "four", "2"s for the number "two", "U"s for the word "you", etc. Don't waste your time listing names like these. They rarely sell.

How Do I Determine My Sites Worth?

Selling virtual real estate is a lot like selling physical real estate. Just like with the housing market, website ?homes? (also known as domain names) can be purchased for a low cost, remodeled and decorated to look very attractive to potential buyers, and sold for a considerable profit. To understand how this works, first consider that you were in fact selling an actual house built on land instead of an abstract entity on the web. It would be impossible to price your home without doing extensive research to determine its worth. You?d need to take many factors into consideration, such as: size, landscape, curb appeal, the value of other properties in the area, the current buying market, and ? perhaps the biggest factor ? location, location, location! You?d never dream of arbitrarily assigning a sale price to your home without having some idea of its worth and what buyers might be willing to pay. If you underprice your home, you could be missing out on a substantial profit opportunity. However, if you overprice your home, you might not be able to sell it at all. That?s why it?s so important to have all the facts before putting your home on the market ? and the same holds true for selling your virtual home on the web.

When determining your sites value, you may need to do some research online. It is often a good idea to compare different websites on the Internet and to see which sites catch your eye. You can make a mental note of the methods used on websites that were appealing to you; then you can use those ideas when creating or updating your own website. The design of a website is very important when you are trying to sell an existing site online. The design should be bold and colorful, but should not be too busy. You may want to use colors that relate to the theme of the site as well. For instance, if you are selling bottled water, it would be logical to use shades of blue on your website. However, no matter how brilliant the website design is, the purpose of the site must also be useful for the website to sell. A good website will revolve around an interesting idea or useful type of business. To reflect the purpose of your website, you should include clear, informative content that is easy to understand. A website with a clear and interesting purpose is very likely to sell on the Internet.

What Makes a Site Valuable to Buyers?

These days most websites are valued by the number of visitors they attract. One common yard stick is your domain name is valued at $10 to $30 per hit per day. If 1,000 people land on your front page each day, your domain could be worth $10,000 to $30,000. Another optimistic way of looking at domain values is each unique visitor you get over the course of a month is worth $250. If the visitor clicks to a second page on your site, her presence is worth $500. By this measure, a site getting only 10 hits per day could go for $15,000. This strategy is a lot like the way traditional businesses have always been sold. The more customers a store has, the more it is worth to a buyer. That is a pretty solid way to value domains. It is a model that is likely to be around for a long time to come.

Here are some of the main questions a typical buyer will ask him or herself when considering whether or not a website is worth purchasing ? and at what price:

1. Is the site making any money? Is there proof?

2. What is the potential for future profits?

3. Does the site have traffic? Is there proof?

4. Is the site attractive/well designed? Is it functional and user friendly?

5. When was the domain name registered?

6. How is the site ranked with the major search engines?

7. What does is take to maintain the site? i.e. hosting fees, content addition, promotion, etc.

8. Why does the owner want to sell the website?

If you?ve purchased a unique domain name with a great deal of potential value, it may not be necessary for you to have an existing website in order for you to sell your domain name for a profit. Typically, domain names will sell based on its performance in four key categories:

1. Commercial Development Potential - The ability of your domain name to be used as a brand, redirect, campaign address, etc.

2. Recognition - The relevance of your name to the market and how easy it is to remember.

3. Length - In most cases, shorter is better. However, a longer more obvious name can sometimes be more valuable than a short classified-ad contraction style domain.

4. Extension Value - This refers to the .COM part of your domain name. Currently .COM names still command the highest values followed by .NET, some national domains (such as .UK) and .ORG names.

How Can I Guarantee I?ve Priced My Site Correctly?

Unless you are a true domain name expert, we strongly recommend having your site professionally appraised. In fact, this is probably one of the most important steps you can take towards ensuring a successful sale of your site. Appraisers are professionals and experts in their field, and they have the means and methods to conclude what your domain name is worth. As we mentioned earlier, if you place an exaggerated price on your name, potential buyers will be scared away from making a reasonable offer. If you undervalue your name, you may end up kicking yourself when your newly sold name rakes in millions ? for someone else. Furthermore, an appraisal is a very handy thing to have when buyers want ?proof? that your name is as special as you claim. In the end, it is an exceptionally valuable asset, available for a very small price.

For information on UK Website for Sale?s professional appraisal services, visit: They offer a 20+ page Website Appraisal that can dramatically increase the value of your website. No one on the Internet offers a more complete or cost effective Website Appraisal, and certainly no one offers all the extras we do that are included for FREE!

Step 2 - Prepare your Business Information for the Sale

After you have decided to sell your business for whatever reason and chosen an asking price that you can support (hopefully with some advice from research or, even better, through a professional appraisal service), you are now ready to talk to some potential buyers. Or are you?

Much like the asking price, the art of preparing your business for sale is not that easy. So, what do you need to successfully prepare the business and information? The list and needs vary greatly over business types, revenue sizes, verticals, and so on. For any business, the basic requirements for what you will need are quite similar. At the very least, you should have the following items:

1. Business Summary -- what it is and why you are selling

2. Business Plan/Marketing Plan -- if you have them

3. Asset List -- both tangible and intangible

4. Search Engine Rankings

5. Website Traffic Reports

6. Any Technical details

7. Financials (previous years and Current YTD financials)

8. Most recent completed year's Profit & Loss or Income Statement report and Balance Sheet -- if you have it

9. Sales Forecasts

10. Supporting documents for the Financials -- Tax, Bank, and/or Merchant Statements

The previous items will give all potential buyers a good idea what is for sale and probably a good idea if they are interested in pursuing the sale or not. However, that is usually just the beginning, so be prepared for many, many, many more questions.

Also, please keep in mind that your materials, presentation, and responses will be graded as part of the business in a way. Why? Because, how can your business be successful if you are unorganized, not well presented, and not able to respond quickly and concisely? This is what the buyer will be thinking. And in my experience, this is pretty accurate.

Step 3 - Market Your Website/Domain Name

There are various methods of putting your domain name up for sale. Decide whether you would like to sell your domain by owner or simplify the process and significantly increase your chances of receiving the best offer in the shortest amount of time by listing your domain name with a third party, such as

What if I Want to Market My Site On My Own?

There are 101 different ways to promote your domain name. One way we don't recommend is blanketing companies with unsolicited email. Writing mail to 200 banks asking if they want to buy is not likely to win you many friends, nor make you any deals. Your time would be better employed using the methods listed below:

a) Update the domain name registration information

Many potential buyers will look at the information in the WHOIS database as a first step when investigating a name that they are considering buying. So make it perfectly clear that the name is for sale. Update the owner's name to include (This name is for sale) after your own name. Make sure all your contact information is current and accurate. Contact your domain name registrar to update your WHOIS listing.

b) Put a promotional website up

The other obvious way for a potential buyer to find out if a domain name is for sale is to visit the website. Don't disappoint them. If you don?t have an existing website, get some web space from a decent host provider and put a simple, one-page site up, showing that the name is for sale. Include a form or at least an email address so that interested parties can submit offers.

c) Get the Word Out

There are two different types of e-marketing strategies that may help increase your sales.

Direct Marketing: Identify and Address Your Audience. What types of businesses or individuals would be interested in your name? When you have identified your specific audience, you can take the next steps:

1. Visit newsgroups related to domain names and the nature of your name for sale. Post messages and begin discussions.

2. Subscribe to ezines related to the topic and find out where these people are on the web, and how you can contact them.

3. Once you have contacts, you can send out emails to potential customers.

Mass Marketing: Address Many. As opposed to direct marketing, mass marketing targets a large amount of people, hoping for a small response. Some ways to do this are:

4. Participate in domain forums, ask questions and seek out domain resellers or people who may be able to offer you more tips.

5. Use search engines. Although search engines differ in their methods of operation and website submission, you can often submit your site for no cost. To find out more information about different search engines and how they work, visit

What are the Benefits to Registering My Site With a Third Party?

For a small fee, you can list your site with a reputable third party, such as, and greatly enhance your site?s exposure to qualified buyers and ultimate profit potential. Among the many benefits you?ll receive by registering with are:

* High visibility ? Reach 1000s of qualified buyers every month

* FREE 3-Month Featured Listing with purchase of professional appraisal

* Professionally written ads

* FREE email newsletter

* A professional appraisal to accurately determine your sites worth and increase your chances of selling ? ready in three to five business days

* The security of working with a trusted, experienced and highly recommended company

* The opportunity to connect with a recommended site broker, who will further simplify the process by handling payment, escrow, and domain and registrar transfer.

Step #4 - Make The Deal

You could get lucky, and receive an offer just days after listing your name. Typically, though, names are listed for months before any offers arrive. The key here is to be patient. Think about it - a party needs to come along who believes that the name is right, even essential, for their new Web site. The only other offers you will get will be from domain resellers, who will typically offer you 20-25% of a name's potential value. Unless you really need the money, turn down these offers, but note them anyway, as they are external confirmation that your name has resale value.
Once you have agreed a deal with the buyer, then you will have to complete the deal. They send you payment, and you transfer the name to them. It's best to use an escrow service here. It protects both parties, but adds to the cost, so make sure you have agreed beforehand who will pay for it. Normally the buyer pays, but sometimes the cost is shared. Please note: to sell a domain name by owner, through a private transaction rather than a trusted third party, is risky business unless you completely trust the buyer.

There will be some wait time as money switches hands and the domain name ownership is transferred. Unless you are selling your domain to your mother or selling it for a very low price, we recommend using an escrow service to take care of the money transaction.

Good luck!

Copyright 2004

M. Avedissian - Owner of
Mr. Avedissian has owned and operated other online businesses. Manny is a graduate of Montcliar State University and holds other techical certifications.

How To Stay Cutting Edge In Online Business - Ecommerce

Let's face it, there's just way too much information out there for any one individual to try to keep abreast of. And yet, if we shut ourselves off from the world, we risk building our businesses in a vacuum and suffering on the bottom line. So how can we put structures in place that help keep us plugged in, with the minimal amount of energy and effort on our part? Here's a few tips.

1.) Remain open to all information, and use technical and human filters

First, don't try to stop the flow of information because you can't. Instead, adopt a soft and flexible stance towards it.

Subscribe to any and all things that are of interest to you. These things can be in your niche market or areas that are of interest to your customers. Bring on all information sources that will inform you and create a context for you from which to make decisions.

For the most part this means you'll get more email. This is simple to manage using filters. Create a dumping folder called "Library" or "Ideas" in your email program. Then direct the stream of information you've created into that folder.

From there, allot yourself an hour or 30 minutes each week to scan these publications. When one piques your interest, read further. If everything is bland, let it go. Delete or simply move on to your other work.

2.) Follow the work of a few leading-edge authors

Have you heard the saying that there is no new material, just new ways of presenting or interpreting it? Along those same lines, have you heard the idea that often it's the 3rd, 27th or Nth time a person hears a certain concept that it really clicks? Meaning that many people have said the same thing to that person, but not at the right time or in the perfect way for them to really hear it?

For these reasons, it's very worthwhile selecting a few authors that you find particularly unlock your thought processes. Certain authors have a way of putting things that makes you connect things well. Others seem as clear as mud and do nothing for you.

Once you find these individuals, follow their work. Sign up for their stuff, visit their sites, buy and read their books.

3.) Cultivate relationships with people around you, to keep an eye out for things of import

Whether this be your support team, your friends and colleagues or your customers, take the opportunity to educate them on what is of interest to you. They'll help you scan your environment and bring you pertinent information.

Staying cutting edge is a mentality. As you build your environment to include the elements above, your way of thinking will start to be shaped by it. Once your mind stretches to incorporate new ways of thinking, it won't be able to stretch back, so thinking small or bland will become a way of the past. Instead of feeling forced to keep up, let information flow around you. You'll save a lot of energy that way.

Andrea J. Lee coaches entrepreneurs and online business owners. As Thomas J.Leonard's General Manager, she helped build and manage the largest network and trainer of personal and business coaches in the world. Now the CEO of Andrea J. Lee Group of Companies, she writes, speaks and consults on Marketing, Internet and Business systems. For more helpful tips, visit

Overcoming Frustration with Technology - Ecommerce

For whatever reason, when we get a new boost in productivity, whether that be from a tool, technology or technique...we quickly forget how much more efficient it's made us. It's human nature. It's like the commuter who gets angry about how bad traffic is, but forgets what a pain it was to wait for the bus. Or the cell phone user who complains about a bad connection, and forgets about the days when he had to fish for spare change to make a call from a pay phone.

It's much the same with technology.

If your plan for your online business is in a long term one, there's no getting around it: You will have to find a way to overcome the frustrations you will have with technology. It's inevitable.

Here are some simple tips for dealing with the frustration

Slow down.

Let's start with an analogy: When you're driving a car at 100 miles per hour, a small thing like a bumblebee hitting the windshield can cause you to lose control and crash. How does this translate to online frustration?

When you're straining your systems and technology to work faster and better for you, the smallest technical glitch can have a bigger impact on your performance than seems logical. That's because you are pushing for "more, faster and better" in the first place.

The solution is to slow down. What this means for you as a carbon-based being is: take a stretch break, breathe a couple deep breaths and generally loosen up. Lighten your grip on the intensity you are trying to sustain, both for yourself and your systems.

Concretely, this may mean taking care of your email just a little bit slower. Typing not quite as fast. Or giving yourself an extra hour to set up your new audio recorder. The extra time spent is worth it if it means you don't have to clean up a tangle later. This may seem counterproductive, but it gives your tools time to do their work for you. Sometimes you have to slow down to get to your destination sooner.

Change channels.

Online frustration is something most people experience from time to time, and this includes your suppliers or contractors. If you have a virtual assistant, you likely know this first hand. The next time you, a colleague or assistant experiences frustration with technology, suggest they "change channels". This means exactly what you think it means, that is, switch tasks.

If your technology is acting up, try switching to an activity that comes naturally to you before going back to solve the problem. There's no point forcing something to work when it is resisting you. Go where the energy is flowing by changing channels.

"Remember when."

Yes, a little reminiscing can be the perfect medicine when you're struggling with technology. As you try to set up your email account for the 12th time, consider the fact that just 10 years ago, thousands of small business owners did not have email, and did all their correspondence by mail, telephone or fax. Do you remember your "mail inbox" in the last office you worked in? How about letter openers, overflowing voicemail boxes or wet sponges to seal piles of envelopes? Remember when we used to get paper cuts on a regular basis?

With the increasing growth of the personal development movement in the last 10 years, many of us have learned to become more self-aware and handle anger, frustration and other strong emotions with techniques such as meditation, journaling or even prayer.

But because the Internet is a new-ish modality, sometimes we forget to apply these relaxation techniques to handle "cyber" stress. The next time you have the technology blues, stop. Don't struggle. Instead, become child-like -- slow down and enjoy, play awhile, and laugh a little about the wonder of it all.

Andrea J. Lee coaches entrepreneurs and online business owners. As Thomas J.Leonard's General Manager, she helped build and manage the largest network and trainer of personal and business coaches in the world. Now the CEO of Andrea J. Lee Group of Companies, she writes, speaks and consults on Marketing, Internet and Business systems. For more helpful tips, visit

10 Reasons Why People Wont Buy A Second Product From You - Ecommerce

1. You didn't follow up after the first sale. After the

sale you could have introduced your other product

on the thank e-mail.

2. You didn't ship the product in the about of time

you stated. If they needed it in a hurry and you

didn't provide, they won't rely on you again.

3. Your product didn't do as promised. If your

product didn't accomplish their desired goal they're

not going to think your second product will either.

4. Your customer couldn't get a hold of you in time

when they had a "after question" sale. You could

have added extra lines of communication.

5. Your customer doesn't want to revisit your web

site because it didn't offer much. You could have

offered more original content or freebies.

6. Your competition is offering free shipping with

their product. You should have been more aware

of how they are targeting your customers.

7. Your customer forgot your web site address.

You should have given your customers your web

site information in your product package.

8. Your customer service couldn't solve a problem

they had with your product. Your customer service

should be trained to handle most problems.

9. You didn't up-sell when they were already in the

buying mood. You can always try to sell your other

product when they're ready to buy your first one.

10. Your competition offers a stronger money back

guarantee. You must always be thinking of better

ways to remove the risk from your customers.

Article Written by John Smith of Need a webhost? Avoid hosting headaches and mistakes, read informative reviews of top rated web hosting companies from a trusted source. Visit us today for a free personalized recommendation based on your specific web hosting needs.

Dont give up on your business! - Ecommerce

Summer must be when many work at home Mom start to think that their business is a flop and begin to look for a new opportunity. This is fine if your business is truly a flop - but chances are, you just need to take a look at it from a fresh perspective.

It will always be easier to give a present business a fresh effort than to start all over.

Here are three very good reasons why:

Reason #1 - You will earn Respect. When you stick with something, you develop respect from others. When you flit from one opportunity to another you will be viewed with some sceptisism from others who will wonder how long you'll last with the new business before changing again!

Reason #2 - You will earn Product Recognition. How many times do we have to read it? The business experts all say it takes two years to really get a business off the ground. So why do we give up so easily after just two months? When we keep grounded and keeping working the business we have, we begin to be recognized for our product. This is true locally and online. There are so many online WAHMs who when I see them, I think of their product.

Reason #3 - It's Financial Smart. Instead of investing $100 to $300 or more into a new business, invest that into a really good marketing effort. Reach a new group of people! Sponsor a great event or contest that will reach new potential customers.

The key here is to really brainstorm! Imagine that you are starting a new business, what is it that you would do to get the word out? Now just do it for your present business! LOL! It's so simple that many WAHMs miss it. Don't waste all the energy on starting over - apply it to what you already know about.

Kelly McCausey hosts Work at Home Moms Talk Radio
Listen while you work!

Make That 3 Billion - Ecommerce

My previous article I wrote called "One Point Two Billion"
attracted quite some attention, the downloads through all
the article syndication services has been astronomical
compared to any other articles I wrote which are still with

It seems the numbers game is popular not only with the
accountancy profession, but with just about anyone running
a website who is interested in more sales from anywhere in
the world.

The internet has proved to be the great leveller, even a
grandmother I know has made hundreds of thousands of dollars
just from publishing a couple of e-books, business of that
magnitude is not now confined to those people with large
sums of investment capital, teams of accountants, planners,
secretaries, swanky offices etc. Anyone, even you, can make
money regularly on the internet, just aim for a goal and
'go for it!'

The costs of setting up have never been lower, the ease of
making web pages has never been easier, ( I make my web
pages in Notepad, which is on every Windows computer), and
the potential audience for your web pages has never been
larger. So what are you waiting for?

The sheer mountain of information available through e-books
on any subject and especially on setting up a business on
the internet would take you a lifetime to read through, so
just be selective and read only what you need to know about
and get started in that business. Businesspeople who have
'been there-done that', have written up an enormous amount
of e-books to pass on their knowledge and experience,
pitfalls to avoid, how to spend your advertising dollars,
and just about everything else you need to know about to
ensure success. So profit from their experience, avoid the
pitfalls, do what they say you should do, and you should be
in a profitable business in no time, just the way they did it.
No large sums of investment are needed, just time and

If you provide an excellent service that benefits all your
clients, they will recommend you to their friends,if on the
other hand you want to be a 'scammer' and a 'fly by night'
operator determined to 'rip-off' as many people as possible,
you will come to grief. You will find your web hosting
account rapidly terminated, your e-mail account likewise, and
your name plastered all over the forums and newsgroups.
You get out of life exactly what you put in.

There are still mysteries about life we still don't understand
and this is the reason we come to grief, but on the other hand,
if you work for the benefit of others, this 'mystery of life',
for want of a better name,cuts in and helps us along, we go
with the flow and good things start to happen.
I could tell you of many experiences I have had, both good and
bad, which I have learnt a great deal from, but space precludes
that, maybe one day.

All right, you win, I will tell you of one particular incident
more recently and then move on with this article.

I carried a St.Christopher medallion on a gold chain in my wallet
for six years, given to me by the wife of a good friend overseas,
'it will keep you safe' she said. I received a new wallet for a
Christmas present and changed everything in the old wallet into the
new one, except the St. Christopher medallion, it was looking a
bit 'worse for wear' and I decided to put it in the cupboard.
That day I lost my mobile phone!

For two whole days I felt a loss which can only be described as
a 'bereavement'. I had lost touch with the network I was attached
to night and day, seven days a week, I felt bereft. I did not know
if someone was trying to ring me, whether something was urgent I
had to know about, my sense of loss was total.

Was this to do with the St. Christopher medallion? I thought surely not.
That was on the Tuesday, by Thursday morning I had decided to put
that 'good luck' St. Christopher medallion into my new wallet.
My mobile phone turned up via a 'good samaritan' who would take no
money as a reward whatsoever.I was never more pleased to see my mobile phone.

So what happened here?Was it something to do with the St. Christopher medallion? Was it because I had 'bad thoughts' that it was the 'worse for wear'so discard it as inconsequential? I don't know the answer.

There have been too many such incidents in my life it would take
volumes to relate the details.

We don't know these 'mysteries of life' but one thing is important
-keep a positive outlook to everything and everyone and good things will happen for you.

It's difficult to visualize how many people that are out there who can
log on to your website. It's also difficult to understand what kinds
of people they are, what background and education they have had. Why
they are logging on to your new site. What do they expect to see, or
learn, or buy?

How will they benefit from visiting your site?.

Will they buy a good product, or learn something, or get some amusement
or entertainment from it?.

Here are some figures to think about:-

  • Adults aged 65 and over are the fastest growing age group taking to the internet, according to Nielsen/Netratings.
    The number of adults from around the world over 65 who use the internet
    has grown by 25% over the past twelve months, with 9.6 million now
    accessing the web.
    The number of female seniors has seen the most significent growth,
    jumping 30%. Male seniors jumped by 20%.

  • 44% of Western European internet users shopped online during 2003.
    Jupiter Research).

  • 55% of the population of Spain are expected to be using Broadband
    internet by the end of this year.
    Jupiter Research).

  • 50% of the U.S. population expect to be using Broadband internet
    by 2008.(Jupiter Research)

  • 1 in 5 internet users download music according to Nielsen.

  • Online shoppers in Australia for DVDs. is now the fifth fastest .
    growing online purchase category after travel, concert tickets,
    accomodation, and books, growing by 30%
    ACNielsen Consult).

  • 22% of U.S. consumers shop online at work.

  • 67% of 12 to 24 year olds online in the U.S. have downloaded music
    from the net.

  • 40 million Americans have downloaded music from the net, equivalent
    to one-fifth of the U.S.

  • It's not hard to see that the net is a hive of activity and people are
    paying for things they want, music in particular.Content has not been a thing that people have been keen to pay for except sex sites, one of the most successful ecommerce businesses of all time. Newspapers online charge for content with some success, but a survey by Jupiter Media Metrix claims that 70% of adult online users don't see why they should pay for content. The researchers project that revenues will only grow to $US5.8 billion by 2006 for online content!

    Of that revenue the highest earners will be "Audio and Video
    Entertainment and Games'. This survey also shows that 42% of net users
    grudgingly expect that over time they will have to pay for content on
    the net.

    So, which way will you go?.

    Will your site be a subscription only site charging a monthly fee to
    access the content? Look at the history of one such subscription only
    site called Salon Magazine. They changed to a subscription only site
    and over the first six months only signed up 25,000 users, out of
    3.8 million users per month who used the site previously.

    Statistics are a wonderful thing as many accountants know too well. Will
    you be guided by all the statistics available through all the research
    companies out there when you build your website?

    Yes, the numbers game attracts a lot of attention has I stated at the
    beginning of this article. Always remember though, that all these users
    in these stats are only human beings and want, need, and desire pretty
    much the same things you do, and set up your website accordingly. There
    are enough humans out there to visit your website, whatever you decide to do.

    Oh, and did I mention?

    The worlds population of humans is now 3 BILLION!


    The author Tony Dean runs a web site where he has free ebooks

    for instant download as well as sells ebooks and software.

    "The Best Ebook and Software Site On The Net!"