Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Selling In Cyberspace

Many business owners have considered how much - if any - time and money they should devote to marketing online. The Internet does offer many exciting business growth possibilities, however. The marketing possibilities are limited only by your imagination, your pocketbook, manpower, and patience.

Art and craft galleries, just one of the many types of businesses on the net, have been marketing online for many years. The website is essentially another complete business location--which happens to draw customers and artists from around the world who shop with their keyboard, mouse, and credit card. Artique Galleries' owner, Mike Stutland, put his Lexington, KY, galleries online in 1999 and says, “The web site has attracted customers from beyond our normal market area. It has brought people into our stores, especially through our links with many tourist information sites.” Those customers may well not have been reached otherwise and therefore represent new sales.

In order to compete for the attention of online customers, the former Chairman/CEO of Valentine Radford Advertising in Kansas City, Mo., Chuck Curtis, offers some tips based on the agency’s survey of 1000 online shoppers.

1. 89% of Internet shoppers use the Internet for product information. Make sure your web site is rich in product details.

2. 45% of Internet shoppers click on their local newspaper and 32% click on their local television station site. This is good news for businesses who can inexpensively buy advertising just on the local media’s web site.

3. Also buy advertising in the email news updates that local news media send out. About half of online shoppers have signed up for these.

4. 58% of these shoppers have signed up for an online loyalty program. It’s a smart idea to reward your best customers with a frequent buyer plan (like the frequent flier programs run by the airlines.) For example: Get a 10% discount on your next purchase when you spend $50.

5. More than a third of the survey (38%) use a wish list feature on the site for their purchases. These are items they would like to buy, but can’t purchase at the moment, and they register their desires online.

6. About two-thirds of the time a shopper will research a product online and then buy it in the store.

7. Many retailers will publish their coupons for in-store use online because the distribution costs are so much lower than putting them in the newspaper or on direct mail.

8. Between 40% and 60% of shoppers (depending upon the amount they spend) strongly object to shipping charges. Many retailers build the price of these into the products, or offer free shipping above a certain amount; e.g., “Free shipping when you spend $50 or more.”

9. 81% of shoppers expect to find a wider selection of products online. Remember that your market online is worldwide. If you find items that you can’t display in your store because of limited retail space, put them on your web site.

With these essential tips from the pros you can take your business to the next level when it comes to online marketing, business growth, and sales.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for small business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, hiring, firing, and motivating personnel, financial management, and business strategy.

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