In Part One we talked a little bit about what Ecommerce is, getting a domain name and setting up a merchant account. Ecommerce is more than that, much more. To have a really good online presence that gets people to stop and shop you need a strategy for success. Your strategy must include your USP or Unique Selling Position in the marketplace. What makes you stand out from all the other online entrepreneurs looking for the same type of customers as you? Can you stand out from the competition based on quality, price or benefits? Once you know your USP, you can begin the monumental task of telling the world about your site. A really unique selling position will give you an advantage over all the competition ? well that and a lot of planning and investing of your time and money.
Emphasize the benefits and the results the customer will get from purchasing from you and using your product or service. You can discover the benefits by listing all the features and then converting them to benefits. List everything your product or service offers. For each feature list a relative advantage from the customer's perspective. You can discover the customer's perspectives when they buy. Simply ask them, " Why did you place an order today or use our service?" BE very specific when creating your benefit statements. An example of this is, "You will save $100.00 sells better than "you will save money." "You will loose 20 pounds in 10 days" sounds better than "you will loose weight." Rank your benefits in order of importance to the customer. If you have enough of them, use bullet points for emphasis.
Emotion sells. People make most buying decisions with their heart and not their head. Paint a picture of the results the customer will get when they purchase from you. " You will look 20 years younger." "You will be $100 richer."
Make sure you include a call to action. Want them to make a buying decision today? Give them a reason to do so. Offer a bribe (discount, bonus, something for nothing).
Your website must load quickly and function easily. If your site loads slowly people will get impatient and go elsewhere. Do all your links work? Have you tested your order page by running sample orders? Have you tested load time using different connection speeds? You can get a fr*ee analysis by visiting Submitplus.com.
Make your website easy to look at and read. I find dark background tend to be more difficult to read than do pale backgrounds. The overall look of your site should be clean and professional. When we were first creating the Women's ECommerce Association, International we did everything in-house. Not being truly adept at HTML coding we thought we could just use a simple program to create a professional site. It was okay, but the one we now have is so much better. Why? Because we hired a professional. You can create a website with a good template program. We are using ECommerce Templates to create our new look for WUN Publications. It is simple to use and relatively inexpensive.
When it comes to graphics, be conservative. Sites that are laden with graphics and flash tend to take longer to load. If your site takes more than 3 seconds to do so, you will loose many visitors and potential buyers. If you must use graphics, make sure the files sizes used have been reduced as much as your image editing/compression software will allow.
View your site using as many different browsers as possible. In addition to Internet Explorer and Netscape, there is Opera, Mozilla, Lynx and those are just the ones that run on Microsoft Windows. WebMonkey has a chart of those supported by Macintosh, Unix/Linux and others. Also, many people will surf with their browser's graphics switched off. Make sure you know what your site looks like without the graphics and that it is still easy for visitors to surf.
One last thought Make sure all your important information is above the fold. If you know that visitors are looking for something specific and you make them scroll down to find it, chances are they won't.
Excerpted from The PMS Principles - Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business ? 2005 - Heidi Richards
Heidi Richards is the author of The PMS Principles, Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business and 7 other books. She is the owner of Eden Florist & Gift Baskets and the Founder & CEO of the Women's ECommerce Association, International http://www.WECAI.org (pronounced wee-kī) ? an Internet organization that "Helps Women Do Business on the WEB." BASIC Membership is Free. She can be reached at http://www.HeidiRichards.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You have permission to publish this article electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the bylines are included. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated.