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Should Coupons Be Part of Your E-Commerce Strategy?

Should Coupons Be Part of Your E-Commerce Strategy?

Coupons are and have been for decades a popular method for retailers to draw more business by giving discounts to customers and also using the coupons themselves as advertising vehicles. Everyone knows what a coupon is and how it looks like. But how does this translate to the online world? Now that an ever increasing number of individuals are shopping online, e-commerce site owners need to find ways to get the maximum number of buyers for their products, by offering innovative promotions and discounts to their targeted audience. This has caused online coupons to become popular as well.

In the online world, coupons work a bit differently than with physical stores, as there is no face to face transaction going on. Online coupons can come in these formats:

A Discount or Promotion Link

Here the buyer clicks on a link, which can be a text link, video, banner or full page ad. They are redirected to a landing page that reflects the promotion that they’re supposed to get, such as a buy one get one free offer, a discount off the purchase price or free shipping.

A Coupon Code to Enter at Checkout

Here, the buyer would enter a discount code in a field during the checkout process. Coupon codes can be shared with the targeted audience through various means, such as email, social media, affiliate sites, etc. There are now thousands of sites whose only purpose is to list coupons for various merchants. People share coupon codes with offers, as well as give feedback to tell visitors whether the coupon is still valid.

Daily Deals or Time Limited Special Offers

Not really a coupon, per se, but works on a similar concept. An e-commerce site makes a special promotion that is only valid during a certain time period, usually a day or a few days. The promotion is mainly shared through the company’s own marketing efforts or through affiliate sites.

Discounts and Coupons Aimed at Specific Customers

Here, the promotion is not available to the public, but rather to select customers, usually those who have already purchased something from the site in the past. Sometimes, it is a rather large group of customers who gets the promotion, such as those who bought something in the past few months, or the customers could be hand selected by the merchant. This can be combined with loyalty programs.

Can coupons really help you as an e-commerce site owner? This is the question that many online retailers are asking. In reality, coupons can have many benefits to online merchants and help them drive more sales, even if it results in lower profits for some transactions, as the customer will essentially be paying less for their items. Tomorrow we will see some ways in which integrating coupons as part of your overall marketing strategy can help you get more sales and in the long run make more money from your e-commerce business.

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How Mobile Payment Solutions Work: Part 2

How Mobile Payment Solutions Work: Part 2

You’ve now learned a lot more about how mobile payment solutions work online and what they’re good for. But before you implement them as a method of payment on your site, there are a few final considerations that you would need to keep in mind. This will let you know what you can expect if you want to use mobile billing with your online business.

Everyone Gets a Share of the Action

Getting the funds from the customer’s mobile account into your hands may seem simple in theory, but the reality is far more complex than that. There are thousands of mobile carriers around the world. In order for a payment processor to be able to collect money from them, they need to go through some rather complex networks of financial agreements and clearinghouses. Of course, this means that they will discount a fee for each transaction made. So you can’t really expect to get the full $5 if a customer makes a $5 purchase on your site. Due to the fact that billing to a mobile is far more complex than billing to a credit card, the fees charged to merchants are usually very high. For each transaction, you can expect to receive only 40 to 70% maximum of the total amount that was actually paid for by the customer. Now there is a possibility that the system will change in the future and more efficient networks will be set up to deal with collecting the payments and forwarding them to the merchants, but for now, high transaction fees are simply part of the game and it will probably stay that way for a few years at least.

Getting Paid is Slow

Don’t expect to get the money in your bank the next day, or even next week. In fact, settlement for all transactions can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days after they were made. This is because the payment processor needs to collect the funds from each mobile phone carrier before they’re able to pay you as a merchant.

On the Bright Side, Fraud and Chargebacks are Low

When a customer disputes a mobile billing transaction with their carrier, due to the low amounts involved, most simply have a policy of crediting the customer the amount they’re disputing and giving them information on how to cancel the subscription. This happens quite often when a teenager buys a few dozen songs or items for an online game and then claims not to know anything about it when his parents get the mobile bill. Therefore, unless there is evidence that a merchant attempted to mislead customers about the cost of the transactions or otherwise deliberately engaged in malicious business practices, chargebacks, although theoretically possible, are very rare.

With all the information presented here, you should have a clearer picture of what accepting mobile payment entails to you as a merchant and can now make a better decision as to whether or not you will want to accept them on your website.

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How Mobile Payment Solutions Work

How Mobile Payment Solutions Work

Yesterday we’ve seen a few details of how a mobile payment solution will work, mainly on the customer side of things. But for you as a merchant, is implementing a mobile payment platform on your e-commerce side really a good idea? In a few cases it could be an excellent choice, but not in some others. Let’s go more into details about the reasons behind this.

First, mobile payment solutions are only meant for very small transactions. Many payment processors impose a limit to the amount that can be charged in each transaction, which is usually around $5 to $10. This means that this kind of payment method wouldn’t be much of a good idea if you’re shipping physical goods. But for digital content and membership sites, it can definitely be something worth considering. In fact, some of the top uses for this kind of payment platform are:

  • Dating sites
  • E-Book and other written content
  • Music / video streaming or download services
  • Adult content
  • Gaming sites
  • “Freemium” services, which have a basic level of service that is free, but the customer can upgrade to a paid package for a small fee
  • Online tech support services
  • Psychic sites
  • Online game currencies and items (WoW, Second Life, etc)

Therefore, anything where the buyer won’t need to receive a physical item and that is priced relatively low may work quite well with a payment solution allowing the buyer to use their mobile to complete the transaction. Sites that offer a recurring billing/subscription model, such as dating sites and other membership services can also benefit from this, as many mobile solutions allow the merchant to bill the customer on a regular basis, such as $5 per week, if they accept to join the site.

Now that we know who such a payment service is suited for, many would be asking exactly how to implement it on their site. To accept mobile payments, you will usually have to go through a third party processor that lets you accept this type of payment. There are a few such companies in operation right now and these can be found simply by doing a quick Google search. Now it is technically possible for you to set up a billing solution directly with some mobile phone carriers, but this is usually out of reach of 99.9999% of e-commerce operators and online entrepreneurs. Signing contracts with dozens of mobile carriers around the world would be a time consuming and costly procedure. Remember, not everyone uses the same phone company. Furthermore, in order for a large carrier to even consider getting into such an agreement with you, you would need to demonstrate that you can create sales volumes that would exceed millions of dollars every year and that your company has a solid product plus financial backing. So unless your little online game site becomes the next Zynga, this proposition would be out of the question. Going through a payment processor usually only requires a working website and an acceptable business model.

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Payment Method Choice is Very Important in E-Commerce

Payment Method Choice is Very Important in E-Commerce

One thing that any online merchant needs to pay attention to is the trends in payment methods available to online shoppers. In the e-commerce world, payment by credit card is and has always been the champion. The main reason behind this is that for many decades before the internet became widely used in the world, mail and telephone order payments were usually done by credit card, so it seemed just logical that this would be a solution used in e-commerce as well. There have been many advances in payment methods for online orders in the past few decades. Let’s examine credit card payments and other methods of payment that you may want to accept as an e-commerce site owner.

Credit Cards

Pros: Simplest payment method to use for many buyers.

Many solutions for merchants to accept credit cards, offered by banks or third party payment processors.

Increases in security have made credit card transactions safer for both merchants and consumers.

Cons: Potential for losses due to fraudulent orders depending on type of merchandise being sold.

Processing fees could be high, ranging from 2 to 5% of transaction.

Check/Money Order

Pros: Safer than online credit card transactions.

Better suited for large transactions.

Cons: Forged and fraudulent payment instruments still a possibility.

Long wait to clear checks in certain jurisdictions.

Delays in sending payment mean that customer may change their mind about order or find a competitor in the meantime.

Bank Transfers

Pros: Various systems exist in many parts of the world allowing for online bank transfers to be made to merchants.

Can be processed instantly, just like credit card payments.

Lower fraud rates.

Cons: Accepting electronic bank transfers from many different countries means merchant may often have to sign up for several different payment processors.

E-Wallet Services

Pros: Instant payments and fraud reduction measures.

Convenient for the customer.

Cons: Several different solutions exist (Paypal, Moneybookers, etc) meaning that merchant must again sign up with each of them.

Some e-wallets are only available in certain countries.

Virtual Vouchers

Pros: Treated like cash, making chargebacks impossible in many cases.

Convenient for consumers located in geographic areas where few other payment options exist.

Cons: Popularity limited to a few countries, mostly popular in certain parts of Asia and Africa.

Processing different voucher systems could be cumbersome for merchant.

Mobile Payments

Pros: Instant and convenient for consumer, billed directly to mobile phone account.

Popularity growing nearly everywhere in the world.

Cons: Fees charged by payment processors to accept payments are very high, due to commissions charged by the processor, carrier and in some cases intermediaries.

Restrictions on maximum payment amount makes this type of payment suitable only for small transactions.

These are some of the main payment methods used in e-commerce transactions in today’s world. If you’re curious about whether implementing a mobile payment solution for your e-commerce site would be a good idea, check back tomorrow as we will go into more details about this relatively new method of payment so that you can see whether it’s appropriate for you.

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Is There a “Best” Way to Market a Small Business Online?

Is There a “Best” Way to Market a Small Business Online?

One of the questions that comes up very often in online marketing forums is something similar to this: “I own a business in such and such industry. What is the best way for me to do internet marketing?” The problem with that question is that there is often no one specific answer to it. The world of online marketing is a very vast and diverse one, with many methods, techniques, tools and services that you can use to accomplish your goals, whether these are to get more visitors to your sites, to promote a specific product that you’re selling, or to get more exposure for your business.

The exact methods that you use will largely depend on who you are and what you’re trying to do online. But in the majority of cases, it is not just one marketing method that should be used, but a combination of several of them. What will be variable, however, is the degree of attention that you will give to each of these methods.

If you’re trying to get your business more recognized and known as the leader in its field in your local area, then using search engine optimization is a must, as you will need to ensure that people who search for what you have to offer will be able to find your business. A large number of people use search engines when shopping for something, so it is imperative that your site can be easily found by them. But SEO is not the only way to do this. If you want the best results, you should use a few complementary methods to get the word out.

You can, for example, make posts on local online classified ads websites. Or you could buy advertising space on websites that are related to your niche, or frequently visited by people from the area served by your business. To gain more visibility, it would also be a good idea to create pages for your company on the popular social networking services.

Once you see that you are getting results, you can keep your website visitors interested in what you offer by offering an email newsletter that they can subscribe to. You can also create a blog where you keep users updated on new happenings in your industry, as well as new products that your business has to offer them.

As you can see, there isn’t really a “quick” solution to marketing a local business on the internet. You should spend some time putting together a complete online marketing strategy where you will think about your goals, as well as the methods that you want to use to accomplish them in the online world. Remember that it is also important to keep track of your progress, as this will let you know which areas of your marketing plan are working well and which others may need a little bit more attention so that you can improve them and make them work as efficiently as possible.

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Social Networks are Also a Customer Care Tool

Social Networks are Also a Customer Care Tool

When we talk about social media from an internet marketer or business owner’s perspective, it is expected that topics about advertising, sales, promotion and marketing would be at the forefront. And yes, this is logical and there is nothing wrong with it. After all, the main reason why business owners are on Facebook, for example, is to promote their business and not waste their time playing Farmville or sharing pictures of funny kittens.

 

But a social media page can be a whole lot more than just a channel that can be used to get more sales. It can also be a very efficient customer service tool for many businesses. The problem is that not all businesses seem to realize this. A study conducted recently shows some disparities among industries related to who uses social networks to respond to customer inquiries, comments and complaints on social media. Telecommunications firms, such as large cell phone and internet providers, had relatively high response rates, meaning that they took the time to respond to users who posted something on the page of their company on Facebook, with response rates around 60%. Consumer goods and electronics companies didn’t fare as well, having an average response of 20%. Ironically enough, media companies, whose business is all about sharing information, only responded to public posts about 5% of the time.

 

No matter what industry you are in, responding to your users on social media is important, especially if a user expresses a concern that needs attention, or asks a question about your company or its products. Social media is not just a sales channel, but also one where you can interact with customers, potential customers and the general public at a customer service level. Doing it is actually quite simple. You can respond to the post if appropriate, provide a link to the answer on your website, or contact the user by private message in order to discuss things privately if it involves something that is specific to their case. Avoid standard, boilerplate responses, however, as they give a “robotic” feeling to those who see them. Therefore, instead of saying “please contact our customer care department at 1-877-YOUR NUMBER”, you can post “We have sent you a message to better address this matter. Bob Parker, Social Media Department, ACME Corporation”.

 

Failing to properly deal with customers who interact with you on social media can give the wrong impression of your business and potentially damage your reputation, as it can make it look like you’re only interested in using the internet to get sales, but not to actually help your customers when they need you. While you may provide customer support by various channels already, such as telephone, live chat, email, etc. you will need to see social media as an important extension of your service department. If your business is relatively large, you can assign a team of employees whose job is to monitor your social media pages for any feedback from consumers, then respond to them and escalate internally as necessary.

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Taking Full Advantage of Mobile Traffic

Taking Full Advantage of Mobile Traffic

It is a fact that the devices that we use to access the internet have changed. Of course, the regular PC, desktop or laptop, is still the main way for the world’s internet users to get online. But the PC is rapidly losing “market share” to mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. Now that the Microsoft Surface is making big news and that there is speculation that Apple is going to unveil yet another version of its iPad as an “iPad Mini” with similar features but a smaller form factor, many online marketers are starting to pay attention to the fact that not all their traffic will be coming from PC users. In fact, an ever growing number of website visits are made from other devices, most notably smart phones, followed by tablets. And it’s not just site visits that are made. Visitors are also profitable for site owners because they make purchases. Signing up for services, buying digital goods and even purchasing physical merchandise just like they would on a PC.

One question that comes to mind is what online entrepreneurs should do about it to take better advantage of this new trend and to be among the first to profit from it. There are a few easy tips which a webmaster or online marketer can follow:

The most important thing is ensuring that the websites you own either have a mobile version, or at least are compatible with the common mobile browsers. There are free online services that would allow you to test your site’s compatibility. Remember that if a user can’t get your site to display properly on their device, they will probably do what comes naturally: hit the back button and go somewhere else, which will potentially result in lost sales and revenue for your business.

A second thing would be to understand exactly what mobile platforms are principally used by your users and what these mobile users do on your website. By taking a look at server logs and statistics, you are able to see how many of your visitors come to your website by using a device other than a PC. You can also see which sections of your site they visit the most and what they do on it. Do they mainly browse for information, or are they looking to buy something that you offer? Remember that trends in mobile platforms may change and new types of devices can appear in the future, so it is best if your site is easily compatible with all mobile browsers and not just aimed at a specific one, unless your main niche is specifically aimed at users of a certain platform (i.e. selling accessories and providing information on Android based mobile phones).

There are a few other ways that you can take full advantage of your traffic which comes from mobile devices and to profit from it. We will take a look at some of the ideas you can implement on your site tomorrow.

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Using Social Networks for B2B Networking

Using Social Networks for B2B Networking

When it comes to using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, many small business owners use these as a marketing and communication channel with their customers and potential customers. Of course, this is one of the main purposes of social media use among entrepreneurs and can indeed be a part, even a major one, of a business online marketing strategy. However, social networking can be a lot more than simply a tool to communicate with and market to your buyers. You can also use different social media websites to network with other businesses and find opportunities that could be profitable for you.

If you’re wondering about some of these uses, here are a few examples that you can consider:

  • Staff Recruiting and Hiring

Employers are increasingly turning to social media websites as a way to recruit staff, either as permanent full time employees, or for temporary assignment to a specific project. If you’re planning on hiring some staff, putting a notice on your social media pages is a great way to generate some responses. Doing so can save you time and money, as you would no longer need to post an ad on various job search websites. You could also simplify communications by answering questions from potential candidates directly over the social network.

  • Buying / Selling Equipment

Do you have any equipment that you don’t need anymore, such as machinery, furniture, vehicles, etc? In that case, posting a notice on your social networking page can get you some interested buyers. Again, one of the advantages is that it is a lot less costly than other online and offline methods of finding the right buyers, as all you would need to do is to post on your page, or perhaps take a look at other people’s pages and contact them to see if they would be interested. It can also work the other way around. If you’re interested in purchasing something for your business, such as a truck for your moving company, then you can take a look to see if somebody you know has one for sale, or post a notice on your page.

  • Finding Services That You Need

Are you looking for an inexpensive, but good quality web designer? Do you need a new VoIP service that is more reliable than what you’re using now? Here again, social media can be very helpful. You can make a post on your page and those who can provide the services can answer. Or at least they can point you in the right direction by giving you information on services that they’ve used in the past, as well as giving you their impressions on them.

  • Finding Various Business Opportunities

Are you looking to expand your business or to branch out into other areas of operation? Then networking with other entrepreneurs and business people can be a very good way of making that happen. No matter what kind of business opportunity you are into, you can find people who are interested in the same thing and can turn into valuable business partners.

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Simple Business Types You Can Start: Part 2

Simple Business Types You Can Start: Part 2

Yesterday, we’ve seen an example of a simple type of business that you can start online. The majority of easy to start online businesses involve either selling a product or providing some type of useful service to your target market. Here are some more examples of small online businesses that you can start:

  • Social Media Marketing Services

Social media has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, so much that many businesses have seen it useful to build their presence on various social networking websites, such as Facebook, Google + and Twitter. Of course, there are still small businesses that, even though they may have an online presence through a website, don’t currently use social media even though it could be profitable for them. If you have knowledge on how to promote products, services and ideas through social media, you can offer your services to local businesses.

There are many types of services that you can provide. The most simple ones would be creating a social media page for your clients, filled with information about their business and products, and done in a style that matches their main website. You can also offer to manage the social media presence of a business entirely, by making the updates as well as creating events, groups, etc. when necessary.

  • Web Design and Web Building Services

Here again, you will offer your services to other small businesses in your area. You can offer to create web sites completely from scratch, or to update existing ones in order to improve their appearance. You can also offer to create mobile compatible versions of websites, which is something that is quite in demand lately due to the increasing use of smart phones by consumers to look for products and services that they want to buy.

In addition to designing and building websites, you can also offer additional services that will make you look more valuable for your clients. For example, you can offer to manage a website completely, by adding content and making updates when necessary. You can also provide your clients with web hosting services as part of your web design packages, which can simply be done by getting a reseller account with a good quality web host.

Naturally, you will need some good web design skills working with different software, plus graphic design skills would be useful as you can then create completely customized backgrounds, logos, etc. for your clients websites. Advertising can be easily done through free or low cost methods, such as on social media, through classified ad sites, forums, etc. If you do a good job and are priced competitively, you could also get some word of mouth referrals which will boost the amount of clients that you get.

These two are other examples of online businesses that you can easily start if you already have the right skills. There are plenty of other ways to make money online by starting a small, home based business. You just need to be creative in finding useful services that you can offer and that people would be willing to pay for.

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Simple Business Types You Can Start

Simple Business Types You Can Start

Many individuals would like to have a simple business to start as an online entrepreneur. The advantage of the internet is that it gives you access to potential clients from all around the world without having to spend a fortune on advertising costs. There are thousands of different kinds of businesses that can be started online. But many would like something that is simple to do in order to earn some extra money. Here are a few examples of businesses that can be easily started depending on your skills:

  • Computer Support and Repair

Now practically anyone owns a computer. But the issue is, the majority of PC users don’t have the knowledge required to troubleshoot problems when they occur, nor do they have the time and patience required to look for a solution. This is where you can come in. The computer support and repair business model can take several forms. The most simple one to operate is a purely online type of business.

Here, you will provide remote technical assistance to users who are having problems with their PC. You can accomplish this by having the user install a remote desktop software, or use a plug in that is built into many commonly used programs such as Google Chrome or Skype. You can now gain remote access of the client’s computer and fix most kind of issues, as long as their PC can still boot normally and they can access the internet. You can set the pricing according to many different models, but for small, one man operations, this would usually be on a per incident basis. Advertising can be done through various ways, such as classified ads sites, social media, or placing ads in local newspapers.

Another thing that you can do is to offer your services as an independent technician to individuals and small businesses. Here you will troubleshoot and repair computer related problems by going to the clients location and fixing the problem. While there is usually some competition from larger support firms, especially in bigger cities, one of the advantages is that you can charge much less for each visit, thus earning you more business from those who can’t afford to pay such high prices.

This business model is not only limited to PCs, depending on your skills and available parts & equipment. For example, you could offer repairs and modification services for smart phones (replacing broken screens, jailbreaking, unlocking, recovering data, etc), tablets, gaming consoles, etc. Depending on how much time you’re willing to devote to your business and how much you advertise, this can be a good side job, or you can also turn it into a full time business, even renting out a physical location and hiring staff, etc. It all depends on what you want to accomplish and what your business objectives are.

Tomorrow we will look at some other small business types that you can start right from home and that you can use to earn some extra money online.

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Good Customer Service is Important for E-Commerce Websites

Good Customer Service is Important for E-Commerce Websites

Previously, we’ve seen an example of how you can improve your online shopping site by ensuring that your site is fully functional and easy for your customers to navigate. There is however another thing that is important when running an online shopping site: providing good service and support to your customers, both before and after they make a purchase.

 

The service level provided by an online business could also determine whether a visitor will turn into a buyer and whether someone who has already bought an item from your website will come back to buy from it again. Here are some ways to make sure that you provide the best possible service to the visitors on your site:

 

Pay attention to their comments.

 

If you have a social media page, pay attention to what the people on your wall are posting. Also, take into consideration any comments that they send to you by email. This could give you some good opportunities to improve your site and business, such as by getting a product that many customers would be willing to buy, or improving an element of your site.

 

Respond to emails promptly

 

Try to respond to emails from your customers within a few hours if possible. The faster you answer one of your customers, the more likely it is that they would be satisfied with your business.

 

Provide different ways to contact you and make it easy for your visitors to do so

 

Your visitors shouldn’t have to spend 15 minutes combing through your site to find a way to get in touch with you if they need to have a question answered. For this reason, you need to ensure that your contact information is featured prominently on your website. There are many different methods that you can use to provide support.

 

The most simple one is email. Simply provide an e-mail address on your website where your visitors can contact you. If you run a relatively small operation, this could be sufficient for you to provide support. You could also integrate a form on your website that your customers could fill out with their inquiries.

 

A live chat option is also possible to set up easily and there are even free scripts available that are provided by web hosting companies which could allow you to do so. One of the other ways that you can provide customer service is by phone. It is possible to get a toll free number that you can redirect to another phone. No matter what methods you use, simply make sure that you remain accessible to your customers.

 

After you’ve sold a product, it’s always a good idea to send a follow up message with a survey asking for feedback about your products and your business. This is another way to show to your customers that you care about their opinions and are available to solve any problems that they might have.

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Make Your E-Commerce Site Easy to Navigate

Make Your E-Commerce Site Easy to Navigate

Yesterday, we’ve seen that it’s important to take steps in order to improve the quality of your e-commerce site if you want to get more customers to purchase your products, in addition to encouraging your existing clients to come back.

 

According to many online shoppers, the accessibility and ease of use of a website are some of the elements to which they pay close attention to when shopping online. One of the main reasons that website visitors left an e-commerce site without buying anything isn’t because they didn’t like the products or their prices, but rather because the website in question made it difficult for them to have a good online shopping experience.

 

Improving your website’s look and navigation is not that difficult to do. First, you must consider how your website is organized. Your products should be neatly organized according to the category, as well as other attributes if they apply, such as brands, etc. You can also make navigating your product catalog easier by letting people sort the items in terms of price, from the lowest to the highest and highest to lowest. Many e-commerce plugins and shopping platforms support a search feature, which you should integrate in your site. This would make it easier for a visitor that knows exactly what product that they’re looking for.

 

The presentation of the text on your site should be easy to read. So for example, if you use a black background, using a “greyish” text color will make it hard to read. Make sure that the text is also of a large enough size to be easily legible.

 

Depending on what you’re selling, including detailed and high resolution photos of the items may be a good idea. Of course, this will largely depend on the type of items that you carry. Having a dozen photos from every angle of the item wouldn’t be too important if you’re selling boxes of vitamins or printer ink cartridges, but for a website that sells clothing, it would be recommended as the customer would want to closely examine the item that they’re going to buy since they don’t have the chance to examine it first.

 

Combine the photos of your item with a detailed description, which will of course depend on the category of items that you carry. By providing all the necessary information about your items to your buyers, you will reduce possible returns and dissatisfaction coming from buyers who weren’t given enough information to see if an item was suitable for their needs.

 

Also, making your site accessible on mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets is a tip that is given by many online marketing experts and has been said many times, but is always worth repeating. The amount of purchases made by users of mobile computing devices is growing. If your site doesn’t display correctly, the visitor will simply go find another one that does. There are many free tools available which can help you test the compatibility of your website with common mobile platforms or create an alternate mobile version of your main site, which carries the same products, but is optimized to be displayed on a mobile platform instead.

 

 

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Securing Your Privacy When Doing Online Business

Securing Your Privacy When Doing Online Business

Previously, we’ve seen some of the privacy concerns that people could have when they do business on the internet, either as an affiliate or an e-commerce site owner. But what about ways to reduce these privacy risks? There are a few very easy strategies that can be employed by online entrepreneurs and which will allow you to get a better control over what information you give out to your online business partners.

The first thing you would want to consider doing is registering a business that will be used for all your online activities. There are various legal forms that a business can take, such as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company, or a corporation. Rules and regulations regarding business registration will vary depending on the jurisdiction that you reside in, so it would be best if you read up on applicable laws and regulations. By having a registered business, you can receive payments under that name and list it as owner of the websites that you operate. This also has the advantage of making your online operations look a lot more professional.

One of the other privacy issues that arise when you do business online is giving out your home address. But there is an easy and relatively inexpensive solution for this. You can get a PO BOX or a mail forwarding address for about $10 per month. You can either use the post office, a company such as Mail Boxes Etc. or an online company that receives all your mail for you and then forwards it to you. This will allow you to do business online without revealing your home address to your partners, vendors, clients, etc. You also won’t need to pay extra for WHOIS privacy for each domain that you buy, as you can simply use your company name and “virtual” address when you register websites related to your online marketing activities.

Another thing that you need to consider is your phone number. Again, many wouldn’t want to give their personal home or cell phone number out as they don’t want their phone number to end up on dozens of marketing lists and get calls every day soliciting them to buy things. Once again, the solution to this is simple and rather inexpensive.

You can get a cheap cell phone on a prepaid plan and use the number as the contact phone number for your online business. This could be a good solution if you’re not going to be making or receiving a lot of business related calls each month. There are some other solutions as well. You could use a VoIP phone number and phone service that you can get for around $15 per month. There are also services which provide you with fax to email, voice mail, call forwarding, as well as numerous extensions. If you’re looking for a second phone line to use for your business, then you will definitely find a solution online for this.

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Online Business and Privacy Risks

Online Business and Privacy Risks

When it comes to doing business online as an online entrepreneur of any kind (e-commerce site owner, niche site operator, affiliate marketer, etc.) there are some people who have concerns about the privacy and security of their personal information. Of course, there are plenty of online marketers who don’t care too much and actually enjoy sharing the details of their personal life on their marketing related blogs, by plastering pictures of themselves, their family vacation, their pets, their cars (or assorted vehicles that they’re proud of: motorcycles, private airplanes and homemade helicopters, etc).

However, some others may not want to be too open about it and it doesn’t mean that they’re scammers or using unethical marketing methods. Signing up to various online services such as affiliate programs, domain registration, web hosting, etc. often requires sharing personal information in addition to payment and banking details. Unless you use WHOIS Privacy when purchasing a domain, your information (name, address, email, phone) will be visible to anyone that runs a query on a WHOIS search site, plus some WHOIS data aggregators actually make this even simpler, all someone would have to do is to Google the name of your site, or just Google your name and they would usually be able to locate some, if not all of the domains that were registered with your name.

Now some may ask: what is the problem? All legitimate online businesses have a privacy policy, so if you’re not doing anything shady, why hide? There are a couple of perfectly legitimate reasons as to why one may be concerned. Anybody following the news would see that there have been some rather spectacular security breaches in the past few months that targeted several companies that did business online, including, ironically enough, a security consulting firm.

Even though they may have a strongly worded privacy policy (which is often nothing more than a generic “fill in the blanks” template), many small online businesses such as start up affiliate networks or service providers may not have too strong standards of security. Furthermore, you need to remember that when a company you were dealing with goes out of business, their data doesn’t just magically vanish and you don’t really know where it could end up at that point.

There are other perfectly valid reasons to keep online business activities private. Some people who work at a day job may not want their employers to know that they’re running a side business. Webmasters who are involved in building and promoting adult oriented website may not want the entire world to know what kind of online ventures they’re involved with simply by doing a Google search of their name.

With all of this considered, there are some good methods to preserve some privacy and anonymity even as an online entrepreneur. We will see some good strategies on how you can do, no matter what kind of online business your run, in tomorrow’s post.

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