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A Few Reasons To Stay Online For Business – E-Commerce Web Solutions!

More and more businesses are establishing an online presence. This is because customers are increasingly going online to access the goods and services they need. Also online business-to-business transactions have become a common trend. Going online brings your business to more people that you would expect a brick-and-mortar store to. When you strategically launch your online business, you will not only gain greater visibility but also improve your return on investment. Here are 10 reasons why your local business should establish an online presence:

1. Customer Accessibility

Consider this: a survey conducted by WebVisible & Nielsen showed that 3 out of 4 people use the major search engines to find local businesses. This means that if someone is looking for a local restaurant, a shoe repair shop, a specialty bookshop or any local service, 75% of the time they will use a search engine such as Google to find this business. As such if you are not online, it means that up to 75 percent of your potential customers are not finding you. However, what if they could find you and see the range of products and services you are offering? This can go a long way in boosting your customer base and your business profits too.

Unlike the brick-and-mortar shops that have to close at some point in the day, the Internet opens 24/7. By having an online presence, your business will go on regardless of the time of day. Customers will still be able to look around your online shop and your product offering and make purchases. This essentially maximizes the business hours so that you are operating a 24-hour business without the need to be physically present. By being open for longer you will be surprised at just how much you will be able to improve on the sales numbers and overall business revenues.

2. Wider Audience

Over 2 billion people have access to the Internet today. This global audience presents a lucrative opportunity as prospective customers. If you have the capacity or the long-term plans, you can sell your goods and services to people in other countries. Instead of setting up a brick-and-mortar shop in every country or geographical location that you want to reach, you simply need to set up a virtual shop that anyone can access.

Gaining an online presence for your local business is made easier by free online tools and mobile & web applications that your customers can use to find out what you are offering. Because people are looking online first before they can make purchasing decisions, it means that those local businesses that have an online presence are attracting more customer inquiries. Any business knows that inquiries, even though they do not lead to an immediate sale, are not necessarily a bad thing. It is through answers to inquiries that you are able to pitch to your local customers. But without an online presence you just might not have as many prospects to pitch to as you would like.

3. Customer Reviews

Both online and offline businesses rely on ‘word of mouth’ as one of the most significant channels of their marketing. But as an offline business, ‘word of mouth’ reviews by customers can only reach so many people, usually a customer’s close friends and family. Yet an online presence allows customers to post reviews about your business and thousands of potential customers will access the reviews and your product offering. Of course, reviews can make or break your business; you need to offer the best services and customer support for your business to receive great reviews. Having an online presence offers your customers a viable platform to undertake ‘word of mouth’ marketing on your behalf. Many studies have shown that potential clients often look through reviews before they can purchase a product or service offering from you.

4. Brand Building And Visibility

Brand visibility means making your brand known to potential customers. As a brick-and-mortar business, you might be surprised to find out that just a few people know about your business brand. But by bringing your business online you become more visible to the people that matter the most: potential customers and the media. The media, whether social or mainstream can play an important role in promoting and marketing your business, but you have to let them know that your business exists in the first place.

Brand building means building trust between your business and these potential customers. Bringing your business online serves as an effective way for prospects to see what you have to offer and what your business is all about. An online existence allows your prospects to realize whether you are the right business to purchase a product or service from. It enable potential clients to compare your offering with that of the competition and it also offers you ample opportunities to tell the client why you are better than the competition.

5. Marketing And Selling Made Easy

It is a known fact that people do not like to be sold to and businesses do not usually like to come off as being too pushy. However, the Internet provides an ideal platform for businesses to effectively market and sell their products without having to apply too much pressure on the customers. By creating great informational and marketing copy for your product offering, you allow the customer to make an informed and relaxed decision. When done strategically, online marketing can be effective in building rapport between you and your customers and establishing long-term partnerships.

Online marketing also allows you to present your offer in a way that is appealing to your target audience. You not only sell them your product offering but you can easily give your audience incentives that they can access easily. For example as part of your marketing campaign, you can give out free digital products such as ebooks and white papers at almost no cost at all. Compare this to offline marketing where you would have to print out these incentives or give incentives that cost you so much.

6. Reduced Cost Of Operation

Having your business online will greatly reduce your cost of doing business. Admittedly, the initial cost of setting up will cost you a significant amount, but the long-term benefits far outweigh these initial costs. The best thing about setting up online is that once you set up, the costs begin to reduce as you enjoy an improved business bottom line. With an online presence, you may eliminate costs such as customer support, office space, marketing research and advertisement as various online tools can help you automate most of these.

7. Affordable Infrastructure

One of the apprehensions that businesses have when going online is related to payment and delivery, however there are plenty platforms and solutions available to you to make business transactions much easier. First, your e-commerce website will be protected by Secure Socket Layer encoding that secures the transactions between you and your customers and will warn you in the event of any security threats to your e-commerce site. Additionally, you will have access to a large number of online merchant payment options such as PayPal and others through which customers can make easy payments just from your own e-commerce website.

8. Connecting With Customers

More and more businesses are looking for innovative ways of connecting with their customers, without breaking the bank. The Internet offers the perfect opportunity for businesses to find where their target audience is and to engage them.

Once you bring your business online, you can connect with your target audience in many ways. You can send them personalized emails about product offerings, offer them informative articles on your site, or create entertaining and educational videos. Additionally, you can develop interactive applications to engage your customers with your business or provide value on forums and social networking platforms.
9. Effective Tracking Of Progress

Sometimes offline businesses do not have a cost effective and reliable method of tracking progress. Yet with an online business, you can track, monitor and measure just about any metric that is important to your business. There are both free tools such as Google Analytics and commercial ones that will allow you to measure your online e-commerce business progress at any time and receive instant results.

10. No Inventory Required

There are companies that do drop-shipping for you so that you, unlike an offline business, do not have to keep any inventory. Drop-shipping companies are suppliers of the products that customers buy from your site. These companies simply ship the product ordered to your customers without you needing to source for the availability of that product and to go through shipping logistics. This can eliminate a significant amount of operational costs that you would have otherwise incurred if you kept inventory.

25 Ideas To Massively Grow Your Business Profit and Business Value

As a business owner you should always be looking for ways to grow your business.

Why? Without growth your business is at risk of being over taken by your competitors, your staff will start to run out of challenges to keep them motivated, your profits will decline as costs increase, your business will not grow in value and most importantly, you will not be achieving your business potential.

As a professional business coach I follow a 5 step system for achieving growth in the businesses of my clients:

  1. Increase the number of customers that come into your business.
  2. Increase the number of times each customer buys from you.
  3. Increase the amount each customer spends each time they buy from you.
  4. Increase the profit margins on the products and services your customers buy from you.
  5. Build a high performance business model by increasing the effectiveness of every business process to reduce waste and reduce the need for you to be there 24/7.

I have found time and again that if you are able to make small improvements in each of these 5 profit drivers in your business, you will drive massive growth in your bottom line profit and in your business value.

In my business coaching module on this 5 step system I outline 25 ideas you can use today to grow your business:

  1. Develop one or more unique core differentiators to make your business stand out from the crowd
  2. Use the power of the telephone to maximize the value of every customer contact
  3. Systemize your sales process to maximize conversion rates
  4. Use market research to make sure you actually understand your market and your customers
  5. Plan your promotion activities rather than leaving things to the last minute and wasting money
  6. Classify your customers and tailor your sales and marketing strategies to each segment
  7. Find ways to ask you customers to return – sounds easy doesn’t it, but do you do it now?
  8. Provide awesome service – always!
  9. Finds ways to nurture your customers and make them feel special
  10. Get customer feedback and use it to improve your service levels
  11. Cross sell from your product range
  12. Upsell products and services once your customer has committed to a purchase
  13. Bundle products and services to create a higher perceived value
  14. Use the smartest merchandising techniques you can find
  15. Never, never, never discount your prices – did I make myself clear there?
  16. Identify your low margin customers and send them packing – preferably send them to your competitors!
  17. Constantly look for waste and inefficiency in your business and find ways to remove or reduce it
  18. Develop a vision for your business and plan to achieve it
  19. Understand the Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats in your business and use this knowledge to build a better business model
  20. Find the time to work on your business rather than getting stuck inside the business every day
  21. Systemize all of your business processes to drive efficiency and leverage your team
  22. Build an effective team
  23. Embrace change
  24. Use the power of synergy to apply all of these business improvement ideas at the same time to turbo charge your business growth
  25. Find a business coach or mentor to keep you committed to a business improvement plan

I hope you can look at this list of 25 ideas and see that none of them are impossible to apply in your business.

In my 25 years experience as a business coach I have applied all of these concepts in almost every type of business and industry group you can think of – and I know they will work in your business if just commit to them.

Start today and you will be amazed at the results you can achieve.

Business Opportunity Leads – How to Generate Business Leads in a Cold Digital World

Before I started doing affiliate marketing online I was actually involved in a home based network marketing business. I learned a lot about this business and how valuable a solid lead can be in growing a business.

My problem was I always wanted to go on the internet to find my leads but the business itself exploded in a “warm market” environment.

Against my mentor’s recommendations I decided to try the online lead gathering approach anyway… and tried to build trust online so that I could eventually show people the real business plan and hopefully become partners with them.

After a few months of work online I was getting pretty decent at capturing online leads. I thought I really was on to something big. In fact, what I really learned was that my follow-up plan for converting my leads into my business was failing and most of my leads were not interested in joining me in an offline business endeavour.

What I began to realize was I was good at getting leads online but was having trouble converting them in a warm market business. I was able to convert them on other things which made me focus more on the affiliate side of things and I started to lose focus on my original business. This is because I was actually starting to see money come in from my online leads.

I no longer do network marketing, but I do believe it is an excellent business model, and in fact sometimes I think back and wonder if I made a mistake in leaving that offline business to start working online.

My mentor really taught me a lot about business and personal relationships, and I have starting using some of his philosophies when structuring my own online marketing campaigns in a way to stimulate long-term growth, and residual income.

So, with all that in mind, understand that I learned a whole lot from my online approach to capturing business opportunity leads.. and this post is going to explain some of the things I learned

Gathering Business Opportunity Leads Online – What I Learned

Gathering qualified leads online can be tricky, but many people find it a necessary step they must take. With your own list of leads you can continue to promote your own business opportunity, your own products, or continue to market affiliate products and offers to your list well into the future.

Business opportunities is one of the most competitive niches online. You can even narrow this niche down to “home business opportunities” which still gets millions of searches around the world every day. People searching for home business opportunities are very valuable leads for several reasons.

If you do a typical search for home business you will find hundreds or thousands of people advertising the next great opportunity, and millions or even billions of blogs around the globe pumping out daily content in this niche.

Many of these site owners have done nothing more than hire a graphic designer for a few hundred bucks to create a nice website and some of them even pay people to write their blog posts for them. These sites have one goal in mind and that is to capture you as a lead and then later convert you to a customer or business partner. Many of the sites and owners promise fancy cars, and warm days at the beach, and some of them will tell you they have the answer you need to gain financial freedom.

Does this sound familiar? It probably does…

The actual number of these types of sites has drastically expanded in the last 10 years. There are literally billions of them – which makes it extremely expensive to advertise in this niche, and very difficult to stand out above the rest.

So How Does One Generate Their Own Qualified Business Opportunity Leads Online?

There are many tactical methods for generating good business opportunity leads online, but it really depends on what type of business you want to build.

If you are looking to just collect emails and send people a bunch of affiliate based products related to making money then the above mentioned style of websites might be all you need, but of course you will be competing against millions of people doing the same thing.

If you are one of the many people who have come online to find qualified business opportunity leads to expand your own home based business then you are probably familiar with warm markets and cold markets.

For the purpose of this article warm market is people you know, which could be friends, relatives and existing customers, even referrals are said to be warm. “Cold market” refers to a sales person’s future or prospective customers.

You may have a lot of experience in converting a warm market but the internet is generally a cold market environment. This does not mean you cannot turn your online leads into warm leads. It just requires a different approach to online lead generation that goes against the traditional “squeeze page” or “sales page” & affiliate approach.

Below are some of the most important things you should include in your quest to build a large list of business opportunity leads, that you can convert into a warm market business.

Be The “Real” You Online

Your first step should be building a presence online that is the “real” you. That’s right. You have to come out from behind the curtain and actually post your real name and photo online.

Many people who start a home business will come online and try to keep their identity hidden because they don’t want their friends, current employers, or family to see they are doing this. This will NOT work for you if you want to build a relationship with your leads.

You must get over your fears and create your online profile.

To do this you should develop your own blog (WordPress is easiest), which can contain anything you want and can be business related. On this blog you can post your daily thoughts, business tips, quotes, information about yourself… etc. You will want your blog to link to all of the following.

  • A Twitter Account
  • A Facebook Profile
  • A Facebook Fan Page or Business Page
  • A Facebook Like Box on Your Blog (Very important for building trust – it shows how many people like you on Facebook.)
  • A Private Facebook Group
  • A Linkedin Profile
  • Facebook Comments – this is a cool way to link your blog to Facebook and every time someone comments on your post it goes on their Facebook news feed.

A Professional Lead Capture Approach

You will want to have a squeeze page or a form on your blog where people can actually enter their emails or contact details, or can contact you directly. You can set up a form on your blog to collect whatever information you want from your leads and even allow people to send you a message. the form is designed to prevent spam. This can be done on WordPress blogs by using a free plugin like WordPress Contact 7.

You can also encourage them to join your email list for exclusive updates, industry news, events, or a free ebook. This can be easily done using a service like Aweber which stores email addresses for you and costs about $20 a month.

Whatever you think your readers would find valuable you can offer to them as an incentive to join your list. Aweber will store all your emails in a safe place and allow you to send emails easily and automatically if you wish.

You might want to steer clear of looking too promotional on your lead capture page and in your messaging. Avoid typical marketing images showing material possessions, and over use of exclamation points. You really need to separate yourself and look professional here in order to keep this people from clicking on the “back” button before they even subscribe.

Most people who are joining your list will be people you have met online or in person and you have already told them to visit your blog. These people will also be referred by friends and family, so you probably don’t want to look like a “shady” salesperson.

Become Involved

To build a following that will trust you, you need to be interactive online. This means you need to update your blog regularly and update your twitter, your Facebook etc. You need to build a following and show them you are the real deal, and you are available to talk at any time. If your leads believe you are there and available, they will be more likely to convert.

Save Time With Syndication

You can update all of your online accounts automatically just by setting your blog up to syndicate the content to other places. If you build your blog in a way that facilitates automatic publication onto social media outlets then you can save a ton of time. For example, you can install the auto tweet plugin so that all your new blog posts are automatically tweeted to all your followers. The same goes for Facebook Page Publish plugin.

Make sure that at the bottom of all your posts you remind people to join your email list or fill in your contact form! People will follow your instructions – all you have to do is tell them. You will want to give them an incentive to do so.

You can also syndicate your content to other popular blogs and websites in your industry if they exist. All you need to do is content the site owners and ask them if they wish to post your content. Many of them will if you have a solid reputation and this will generate traffic to your site.

Generate Traffic

There are several ways you can generate traffic to your site. Paid traffic is the fastest form of traffic online. Facebook allows you to buy traffic and target specific interests and hobbies. It can be effective, but very expensive.

If you are going to pay for traffic you need to calculate your cost per acquisition or CPA and you need to know the value of 1 lead to your business. This will determine whether it is worth the investment in buying traffic.

You also have to have an end goal in mind on how you are going to get the paid clicks to convert into an email lead and how you will then convert that email lead into an actual business partner. This is the most difficult part of the process for most people.

What is the Cost Per acquisition?

In my experience online using squeeze pages, for every 100 clicks you buy you should convert at least 30 – 40% or more into email leads. So if you pay 40 cents per click it will cost you $40 for 40 leads. ($1 per lead)

I found with a few tweaks and some cheaper traffic I could acquire email leads for 0.50 cents or less.

You could also pay-per-click on places like Bing Ads or Google Adwords which may be a bit cheaper than Facebook.

Once you become more involved and post more blog content you will start seeing a trickle of free traffic. Another trick is to build a viral video or viral content that will be shared among people on social media sites. Make sure it is linked back to your site.

Every time you post new content you should also be sending it to all your other social media accounts and your subscribers. You will find that as you gather more and more leads and continue to build more solid content on your blog that your traffic will increase exponentially since many of your existing leads will share your content through Facebook and Twitter.

You can also set up new business cards with your blog address, and do some offline promotion including radio ads, flyers, classifieds etc.

Email or Contact Follow Up

How you follow-up with your leads is the most important part of all your efforts.

Business opportunity leads generally convert better if you “warm” them up first. So you should treat the people you meet online the same as you would treat people in person, or even your friends and family. Steer clear from lengthy automated email follow ups and salesy tactics. You need to build trust and give them what they are looking for.

A couple automated welcome messages may be OK, but you really should try to eventually get these leads on the phone or use a tool like Skype which allows you to have a face to face conversation with someone.

If you have a pre-formatted presentation or “plan” you need to show them, you should not do this on auto pilot – (for example with automated emails).

You should call them and arrange a meeting time and have them watch the plan or presentation. Then follow-up immediately by phone or Skype. Be prepared to sign them up or have them purchase your product at that point. This will drastically improve your conversion rates for your business opportunity leads that you collect online.

Affiliate Approach

If you are an affiliate looking to make money from your leads, then an automated follow-up sequence on Aweber may work better for you. There are several legitimate business opportunities that have affiliate programs and convert well with this type of marketing approach.

Regardless of how you want to build your business in this niche, you are definitely at a huge advantage if you collect your own business opportunity leads first before giving them to other companies.

Hopefully this article will help you separate yourself from the rest and build a strong team of qualified business opportunity leads from the internet.