8 razones para tener presencia en Internet

8 razones para tener presencia en Internet

La importancia de tener una página web es indiscutible, sin embargo, para optimizar al 100% este medio es importante que se cumplan con una serie de objetivos, como ofrecer servicios concretos, acercarse e interactuar con el cliente o encontrar nuevos o mejorar la producción y el funcionamiento general de la empresa.

Para ello, Ylos.com recuerda las ventajas que cualquier directivo, responsable de marketing o comercial, debe tener en cuenta para no prescindir de este servicio.

1. Apreciación del consumidor: la interactividad de Internet permite crear una gran afinidad y complicidad con los visitantes de la web, imposible por otros medios.

2. Mejora en la comunicación de las organizaciones: la automatización actual permite llegar con mensajes precisos y adecuados en función del nivel profesional o el interés puntual de la audiencia.

3. Respuesta instantánea: la transferencia de información en tiempo real puede aplicarse a cualquier departamento. Ante una propuesta, el cliente reaccionará con pedidos, comentarios u otro tipo de acciones que servirán para evaluar si los servicios se adecuan a sus necesidades y expectativas.

4. Incremento de los clientes potenciales: en función del producto, recursos u objetivos de la empresa, éstos pueden ser tan globales o segmentados como sea necesario.

5. Disminución de costes: gracias a la automatización, se reducen los gastos de todo el proceso, traduciéndose en ahorros muy importantes para la empresa y el consumidor.

6. Mejora de la productividad: es el resultado de la implantación de Internet en los procedimientos de la mayoría de las organizaciones. Mejora así el control y la descentralización de los procesos, la disponibilidad de los recursos humanos, y el acceso y gestión de la información desde cualquier lugar.

7. Nuevos mercados y nuevos consumidores: la apertura generalizada es el efecto de la exposición de los productos de la empresa en Internet; “hay que prever la forma de satisfacer la demanda de estos clientes y canalizarla adecuadamente”, como indica Josep García, director de Ylos.com.

8. Oportunidades de negocio: la interacción con los clientes pondrá al descubierto nuevas ideas, posibilitando un desarrollo más ágil y la evolución hacia nuevas líneas de productos, en fases tempranas del desarrollo.

Source: www.entrepreneur.com

Tu startup NECESITA un sitio web

Tu startup NECESITA un sitio web

Que se cuestione la credibilidad de una empresa porque no tiene presencia en la web es una clara señal de cuánto hemos avanzado. Cualquiera que esté buscando las credenciales de una compañía antes de contratar sus servicios probablemente busque en otro lado si no encuentra ningún resultado online.

La oportunidad de que los consumidores las encuentren en Internet, se suma el beneficio adicional de las ventas online en el caso de empresas que operan en el sector de venta al menudeo. Las expectativas cambiantes de los consumidores hacen que hasta las pequeñas empresas tengan que mantener una plataforma online que esté disponible todo el tiempo y que permita, e incluso optimice, la interacción con los clientes.

Un estudio realizado por RedShift Research y GoDaddy reveló, que, en México, 62 por ciento de los micro empresarios cree que su negocio crecerá entre 10 – 50 por ciento en los próximos 3-5 años después de crear su propia página. Para una startup, tener presencia online es una decisión más que acertada, pues de entre los negocios que respondieron que ya tenían un sitio en internet, 60 por ciento dijo que su negocio creció como resultado de esto.

Entonces, ¿por qué algunos tienen tanta reticencia a estar en línea?
Quizás algunos suponen que para lanzar un sitio web deben tener un título en informática. O que mantener un sistema de pagos online lleva mucho tiempo. Tal vez hay tantas otras cosas de las que ocuparse cuando uno está comenzando un negocio que el sitio web queda en último lugar.

Pero crear una identidad web no tiene por qué ser tan complicado ni llevar tanto tiempo. Y, de hecho, debería ser la prioridad número uno.

Gracias a la reciente disponibilidad de extensiones de nombres de dominio, es posible asignar a su emprendimiento un nombre de dominio más personalizado. Es importante pensar cómo quiere que su empresa sea percibida a largo plazo. Optar por .MX inmediatamente indica dónde está ubicada la empresa o .BIZ explica en una sola palabra qué hace la empresa. Los nombres de dominio local, como.mx inmediatamente asocian a su compañía con atributos valiosos como confiabilidad, solidez y credibilidad para clientes potenciales en el México. En contraposición, una .com es sinónimo de escalabilidad global. Cualquiera que sea el nombre de dominio que usted escoja, asegúrese de que sea único y fácil de recordar.

El próximo paso es desarrollar el sitio. A veces no es tan sencillo dar los primeros pasos para empezar a construir su presencia en línea. No te dejes abrumar por la creación de tu identidad online. Ya tienes muchas preocupaciones con su nuevo emprendimiento y desarrollar el sitio web no debería ser una más.

Las startups mantienen viva la innovación. Son lo suficientemente pequeñas como para explorar nuevas ideas, pero tienen el potencial de crecimiento explosivo para que esas ideas sean relevantes. Los productos de nicho pueden crear nuevos mercados y buscar nuevos consumidores, y este potencial es muy atractivo. Por eso, es vital que los consumidores tengan acceso a estas empresas en la web. Tu startup es demasiado importante para no tener un buen sitio web.

Source: www.entrepreneur.com

Qué debe tener tu página principal

Qué debe tener tu página principal

En los negocios, sólo tienes una oportunidad de lograr una buena primera impresión, y lo mismo ocurre con tu sitio Web. Cuando los clientes acceden a tu site deben tener, instantáneamente, un entendimiento claro de quién eres y qué es lo que haces. Sin embargo, las estadísticas muestran que gran parte de las páginas de los pequeños negocios carecen de los elementos básicos, lo que conlleva a la pérdida de prospectos de clientes desde el primer clic.

La relación entre un cliente y un negocio se basa en la confianza. ¿Tu sitio Web es amigable con los clientes y les transmite confiabilidad? Para que así lo sea, te compartimos los cinco elementos que debes incluir en la página home (principal) del sitio Web de tu empresa:

1. Información de contacto
La mayoría de las páginas Web de pequeñas empresas no incluyen liga al correo electrónico en la página principal, y muchas de ellas tampoco cuentan con el número telefónico. Mínimo, tu página home debe tener tu email y tu teléfono.

Si tienes una ubicación física, considera también incluir la dirección completa, así como un mapa con instrucciones para llegar.

2. Imágenes que representan lo que haces
Si vendes, por ejemplo, pasteles para bodas, tu página home debe tener una fotografía de uno de tus mejores pasteles. Aunque esto suene básico, muchos sitios Web de pequeños negocios usan gráficos irrelevantes como fotos familiares o de mariposas, o peor aún, no incluyen ningún tipo de imagen. Define cómo se desplegarán tus imágenes.

Piensa dos veces antes de decidir si éstas girarán o si se agitarán o si hacen cualquier movimiento que pudiera resultar molesto.

Relacionado: Crea tu sitio Web con diseño responsivo

3. Navegación clara con ligas que funcionen
Tu página principal debe tener un sistema de navegación claro, ya sea en la parte superior o inferior, o a un costado de la página. Los botones deben estar bien marcados y corresponder con el contenido de tu sitio para ayudar a los clientes a que encuentren rápidamente lo que están buscando. También considera incluir botones de Envío, Preguntas y de Historia de la compañía.

Es muy importante que regularmente hagas clic en todas tus ligas y botones para asegurarte de que todos funcionan, o usa las Herramientas para webmasters de Google para identificar errores de 404 (no encontrado). Las ligas rotas no sólo pueden evitar que los consumidores completen una compra sino también pueden dar la impresión de que no te interesa tu negocio.



4. Una caja de registro
Una forma efectiva de motivar la lealtad del cliente es a través del envío regular de newsletters (boletines electrónicos). En tu página home incluye una caja de registro para tu sitio Web y ofrece recompensas, como descuentos en compras a todo aquel que ingrese su dirección de correo. Servicios como Mailchimp ofrecen formas sencillas de hacerlo.

5. Ligas a tus redes sociales
Ayúdales a los clientes a estar en contacto contigo al proveerles links a tus cuentas de redes sociales desde tu página de inicio. Usa los íconos reconocibles de Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ o Pinterest. También puedes incluir los widgets de las redes sociales que facilitan que los usuarios te sigan inmediatamente y que compartan tu contenido.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your First Business

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your First Business

When I opened my first business, a fitness center, unfounded confidence flowed through my veins. Visions of fast success and weekends off with the family seemed as close as the next sell.

A few months later, the bravado gave way to fear and insecurity. That dream about weekends away vanished, and my 5 a.m.-to-9 p.m. schedule began taking its toll. I have been fortunate ever since to avoid similar mistakes in my more recent businesses. But I continue to review those mistakes, lest I repeat them:

1. Allowing belief to override the business plan

Owning a business is not for the weak in spirit. You need a strong mind and heart to face the day-in and day-out work. In the early days of the dream, it’s easy to be so excited and enamored with the idea of “your” business that you fail to grind out a proper business model.

When I approached my bank with my business plan in a thick three-ringed binder, I thought the president might just hand me a briefcase of cash. No kidding. Then came reality: Within two minutes the bank president asked me several questions my plan couldn’t answer. Still, that didn’t faze me. I lifted my chin and stated with conviction, “This will work.” I left without the briefcase of cash. Belief overrode the business plan, and I exited penniless.

2. Listening to customers instead of spreadsheets

“Famous Health Club just went out of business,” my soon-to-be business partner Mike said. “They left all the equipment,” he told me excitedly. “We can go in and start quickly and not have to buy everything. However, they scammed their people, and no one wants to sign a contract.”

No problem. We won’t do contracts, I thought. And we didn’t. But we should have. Because, six months later, a giant fitness chain came to town and told members they could sign up for two years and pay via automatic draft. And people signed up in droves. Our “we won’t sign a contract” people left for newer pastures.

The lesson is, you’ll be tempted to set up your business in the way your customers say they want. And, sometimes that will be fine if it fits your model. Otherwise, trust your spreadsheets. Make sure the math works before giving in on every demand in hopes of making the sale.

Related: 6 Common Mistakes First-Time Business Owners Should Avoid

3. Risking a family member’s retirement fund

Remember my empty briefcase? I gave up on the bank and instead went to my grandfather and asked for the money. I needed only $20,000. That’s it. It never crossed my mind that Daddy B might consider what I requested to be a big sum, considering that during his career, he’d been a lowly paid high school principal. And, as if that weren’t enough, he told me he believed only in safe investments and had put most of his own money into interest-bearing certificates of deposit earning a massive 2 percent interest.

Being young and arrogant, I took my grandfather back to the same bank. Together, we got a secured loan and I was on my way. So, I was able to move forward. But unless your family members have the money to lose, don’t borrow against their retirement or savings. They may love you and want you to succeed, but losing their money will haunt you.

4. Miscalculating the time needed to launch

Since those former fitness club tenants had left their equipment, Mike and I figured that we could open quickly. It was already December and we believed we could open by January 1. Just in time for the New Year’s “resolution” crowd. Timing-wise, we thought we’d won the lottery.

But, three days prior to opening, we knew we were in trouble. I still can’t remember if we slept those last three days. We pushed hard to open the doors. And they opened, but not without our first suffering stress, tears, fears, panic, anxiety and delusions of the greatest business failure ever known to man.

So, set your own grand opening inside a buffer zone. Plan to be ready 10 days ahead of “the” day and you just might open on time, without dread and anxiety.

5. Equating personal experience with business expertise

I began working out at age 12. I was competing in powerlifting and body-building competitions by age 18. In addition to that, I was a personal trainer at a local gym. Certainly all that experience would translate into running a fitness center of my own, right?

Not even close. I knew how to train people, but not retain people for the purpose of growing a membership-based business. You might be a great cook, mechanic, web designer or artist, but that doesn’t automatically translate into business acumen. So grab some study courses fromEntrepreneur.com and arm yourself for this battle called business.

A couple of years later, Mike and I sold that fitness center. Our buyer was a guy who wanted the space for his karate school. We barely paid off our business loans with the sales proceeds. It could have been so much more had we avoided the mistakes we made starting our first business.

So, remember them, and learn.

Source: www.entrepreneur.com

Aprender emprendiendo

Aprender emprendiendo

Un día, con motivo de la presentación de mi libro y conferencia en la Université de la Manouba de Túnez, fui invitado a un programa que se emite en la televisión española, en el que se tratan temas de actualidad política, social o económica. Me sentaron como invitado especial y todos los periodistas me iban haciendo preguntas, hasta que uno de ellos me preguntó, entre risas: “¿Si quieres ser neurocirujano porque hablas de emprendimiento?” A esto contesté que gracias a mi afición a la Historia descubrí a Ramón y Cajal, el cual, fue un gran emprendedor, creyó en él mismo y luchó muchísimo hasta que le concedieron el Premio Nobel. Creo que este periodista no conocía la historia de Ramón y Cajal y por supuesto, no sabía que ser emprendedor no significa solamente fundar una empresa o invertir en la Bolsa.

¿Te parece poco ser emprendedor, crear un blog a los 10 años – convirtiéndome en uno de los blogueros de actualidad más jóvenes del mundo -, haber publicado un libro a la edad de 11 años que se está vendiendo por todo el planeta o fundar un ciclo de conferencias?

Después de esta experiencia que di cuenta que nuestra educación no está adaptada a nuestros tiempos y necesita una formación urgente del docente para potenciar en los alumnos del gen emprendedor que todos llevamos.

Creo que todos nacemos con este gen, pero no basta con ello, nos tienen que enseñar a desarrollarlo y tenemos que aprender a ponerlo en marcha. Si la escuela nos diera las herramientas necesarias para crear y dejar volar nuestra imaginación sin imposición de materias repetitivas ni rígidos horarios, podríamos lograrlo. Es lo que yo denomino como aprender emprendiendo.

Estoy de acuerdo con que todas las materias son válidas. Necesitamos saber matemáticas, idiomas, historia, lengua, informática, geografía, etcétera, para luego poderlo aplicar en nuestra vida. Lo que yo PROPONGO es la manera de impartir esas asignaturas, para que, cuando salgamos a la vida real desde pequeños, seamos capaces de encontrarles sentido y veamos que realmente son de utilidad. Es darnos cuenta que sin esos conocimientos “indispensables” no vamos a ir a ningún lado (bueno sí, a Big Brother).

Por ejemplo, el famoso Teorema de Pitágoras que todos aprendemos en la escuela, tiene infinidad de aplicaciones en la vida cotidiana como en la construcción, la arquitectura, la navegación, la localización de un terremoto, la investigación de la escena de un crimen o en la trayectoria de un misil o una bala. Si al explicarnos ese teorema nos comentaran para que se usa en la calle, nosotros prestaríamos mucha más atención.

Otro ejemplo es que, muchos niños se preguntan para qué quieren saber historia si ya es pasado, pero estudiarla es muy importante, pues no solo se trata de cultura general, sino de una herramienta para prevenir lo que nos puede suceder en un futuro (y eso para un emprendedor es fundamental). Viendo los errores o aciertos de otros nos puede ayudar mucho, como saber aplicar la historia a la bolsa y a los mercados de manera más acertada y no caer en lo mismo.

Cuando vemos a una persona e incluso niños que han triunfado y están ganando dinero porque han creado una aplicación para un dispositivo móvil, o han montado una empresa, muchos no ven los conocimientos adquiridos y la creatividad que hay detrás de ese éxito. Pero la mitad, por no decir el 70% de esos conocimientos no vienen del colegio, si no del desarrollo del espíritu emprendedor en casa o en la calle.

Emprender no es fácil y para hacerlo con éxito no solo valen tus capacidades, también necesitas desarrollar habilidades y estas se pueden aprender y enseñar. Los alumnos que sienten que se pueden comportar como emprendedores tienen más motivación que los que no lo sienten. La educación del siglo 21 se debe basar en apoyarnos y ayudarnos a desarrollar nuestras habilidades, con esto se lograría que los alumnos nos sintiéramos útiles en el colegio. APRENDER sí, pero EMPRENDIENDO.

Source: www.entrepreneur.com

Personaliza la página “Conócenos”

Personaliza la página “Conócenos”

¿Qué mejor lugar para conectarte con clientes, inversores, medios y empleados prospecto que en la sección “Conócenos” de tu sitio Web? En esta página tienes una buena oportunidad para contactar con ellos de una manera personal, pero muchos emprendedores no la usan en su máximo potencial.

¿Y cuál es la mejor forma de mostrar quién eres, dónde empezaste, a dónde te diriges y qué es lo que mueve a tu empresa? A veces es incluso un asunto de storytelling de acuerdo con Catherine Kaputa, estratega de marca. “La gente quiere conocer la historia. Si batallaste para iniciar tu negocio, querrán saberlo. Si es tu segundo intento en el emprendedurismo, querrán escucharlo”, dice. “Pienso que la inclinación está en no sólo hablar de las fortalezas, sino también en mostrar vulnerabilidad”.

Te compartimos seis pasos para personalizar la página “Conócenos” de tu sitio para diferenciarte de la competencia:

1. Primero, tu(s) cara(s)
Dales la bienvenida a tus visitantes como lo harías en persona, empezando con una foto tuya y de los co-fundadores. Acompaña cada imagen con una biografía de 20 palabras de cada uno.

Algunas empresas hacen esta sección interactiva como Udemy.com, un sitio que ofrece cursos online con instructores de todo el mundo, y que usa un carrusel en donde los usuarios pueden dar clic para conocer a los miembros del equipo. “Nuestros instructores son la cara de nuestra marca”, dice Dinesh Thiru, vicepresidente de marketing de Udemy. Si tu empresa tiene demasiados miembros puedes considerar una foto grupal.

2. Haz al equipo accesible
Al elaborar las biografías de los miembros del equipo olvida las direcciones de email individuales, ya que éstas pueden generar olas de spam. Mejor, considera incluir fotografías con una liga a su cuenta personal de Twitter

Personaliza la página “Conócenos”

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3. Usa un lenguaje conciso y atractivo
La brevedad es crucial en el mercado online, así que intenta resumir la descripción de tu empresa  en menos de 300 palabras. Además, visualmente, corto es mejor, dice Nathan Swartz, diseñador Web. Sin embargo, hasta los emprendedores que quieren poner más texto pueden ofrecer un atajo a los lectores con frases con letras más grandes o en negritas.

Mantener el mensaje corto también es mejor para la parte de optimización en motores de búsqueda (SEO), dice Sonya Boggs, estratega SEO. Para generar más tráfico, Boggs recomienda usar textos y meta descripciones (código HTML que da una descripción de la página) en la página “Conócenos” que no se repitan en otra parte del sitio. Puedes usar herramientas como Google Analytics para monitorear el tráfico y encontrar áreas de mejora.

4. Crea un video
Aumenta la experiencia visual de la página con un video. No necesita ser una producción profesional, dice Kaputa. Simplemente necesita decirle a los usuarios quién eres como negocio. Algunos emprendedores usan la descripción escrita del negocio como guión.

Edita la grabación para que dure dos minutos o menos, súbelo a YouTube e inserta el video en tu página para que los usuarios puedan compartirlo. “Si una imagen dice mil palabras, un video dice mucho más que eso”, dice Tom Nguyen, diseñador Web.

Otra idea es poner testimoniales de clientes. Udemy.com usó esta estrategia, ya que Thiru dice que a los consumidores prospecto les gusta escuchar y ver reseñas de otros clientes.

5. Divide la información
Algunos emprendedores deciden dividir la sección “Conócenos” en varias etiquetas o páginas, basándose en el contenido, generalmente teniendo a la descripción de la empresa en la página principal. Presentar la información en páginas separadas (por ejemplo, en una poner “nuestra historia” y otra “qué hacemos”) puede facilitar la digestión de la información para los visitantes. Además, tener múltiples páginas mejora tu SEO permitiendo más clics de las visitas y más lugares donde poner palabras clave.

6. Mantén el tráfico fluyendo
El valor añadido de la sección “Conócenos” es su habilidad de mover a los visitantes a otras páginas del sitio y a las redes sociales. Aumenta la capacidad de tu página para enlazar y referenciar contenido. Incluye ligas a tu cuenta de Twitter o a otro blog, si es que lo tienes. Esta página debe ser un punto de aterrizaje, no el destino final.

Source: www.entrepreneur.com

How Often Should You Update or Rebuild Your Website?

How Often Should You Update or Rebuild Your Website?

When it comes to updating your business website in a timely manner, the one rule is this: There are no rules. That’s according to Christian Riggs, president of Riggs Creative Group, a user-experience design and website development firm in San Diego. Riggs says that deciding whether to update, redesign or reengineer your site should depend entirely on your business goals, objectives and economic considerations, rather than on some superficial time frame pulled out of thin air. We asked him to explain.

Q: Why would I redesign the look and feel of my website but not rebuild it?

A: A variety of factors can make a redesign worth considering, but here are several that almost always require an update. You’ve got new branding and color standards, and you need to make sure your new look extends to your website. Your bounce rates are extremely high, meaning people visit but few convert; a well-thought-out redesign can turn this around. Or your business has grown, and plans call for new products and services; your site’s design may need to reflect that change. Last, your customers complain about your site, claiming that it looks outdated or doesn’t work well.

Q: What developments might require me to reengineer my website from scratch?

A: The most important one is if your current site doesn’t adapt to mobile device screens. Fixing this is an absolute must in today’s mobile-driven world. Another would be if your site was originally built using Flash: Apple’s iPads and iPhones don’t support Flash. That’s reason enough to rebuild, but there’s another reason: Flash can slow your site down.

QShould I invite my customers to be part of the redesign process?

A: Yes! Customer opinion and feedback give you the kind of insights that convert visitors into customers. Start by asking what they think of your proposed design and if it appeals to them. Then ask about the problem they’re looking to solve and if the information they need access to is easy to find in the new design. After you relaunch the site, ask them again if they like it. If they say no, address their concerns through incremental design enhancements, which your new site should allow you to do without starting over.

Source: www.entrepreneur.com

Stop Being Such a Tight Wad. Invest In a Great Website.

Stop Being Such a Tight Wad. Invest In a Great Website.

You just worked your ass off for the last 12 months.

Creating your product. Having samples made. Ordering 1 million of them because that’s the factory’s minimum.

You had someone in Indonesia create a slick logo for you. You set up your UPS account. You’ve rolled up your sleeves and you’re ready to get started on your ecommerce website.

Maybe you know a guy who’s nephew builds websites from his dorm. Or you read some article on how to build your own website in three easy steps. So now all you have to do is get the website built and you’re good to go, right?

Wrong.

Over the years, I have met too many entrepreneurs trying to build their own websites and too many entrepreneurs whining about the price to build a great website. And it bugs me.

Building a beautifully designed, fully capable website is no longer a luxury if you’re looking to launch or grow any ecommerce business in 2015. It’s a necessity.

Look, I get it. You’re a startup. You have a limited budget. You’re an entrepreneur willing to do things yourself. And that’s all very admirable. But if you’re launching an ecommerce business and you’re unwilling to invest in your website, then you’re better off having never launched your business.

Here’s why.

You have a single presence. Make it count.

Instead of a website, let’s assume instead you’re opening a new brick-and-mortar clothing store. Since you’re a startup, your shop would likely be small. Your budget for build-out wouldn’t be much. But at a minimum, you still have to pay for paint, flooring, lights, shelves, displays, mannequins, a POS system, an inventory system and quite a few fixtures. Even with just a short one-year lease for retail space, no matter where you open it, you’d still be looking at $100,000 to cover just your physical presence. Probably more.

And even after dropping $100,000, you’d still pale in comparison to the Macy’s down the road from you. Or the Ann Taylor. Or the Men’s Wearhouse. They’d kill you in presentation, assortment and skilled labor. You’d never survive.

But…if you’re building an ecommerce website, customers view you differently. They view you only in the narrow world of online space. They won’t be thinking about what the Macy’s store in their neighborhood looks like. They’ll compare macys.com with your website.

And guess what? Now you have a much better chance in this competition.

While the cost of a good web developer varies, a beautifully designed, fully capable website should cost between $7,000 and $20,000 at most. Now compare that with the $100,000 you’d spend for your brick-and-mortar store — and you’d still lose that battle in every way. So why wouldn’t you spend a few bucks and build a kick-ass website? A website, by the way, that would last far more than a year.

So what does it mean to have a beautifully designed, fully capable website?

The best place to start when designing your website (both aesthetically and as a utility) is to roam the web seeking out your competitors. What do their sites look like? What do you like most about their design? What do you like least about their design?

Now start looking at sites outside of your competition. Look for anything from a design perspective that appears fresh or unique. I’m building a website now to sell my own line of men’s bedding. Our gallery of thumbnails and product pages were inspired by a website I found dedicated to real estate crowdfunding. A totally different industry, and yet, the design scheme fit perfectly for what I wanted to do.

So after you have the design figured out, then make sure your product photos are professionally taken. Every piece of research I’ve ever read confirms that the nicer your product photography, the higher the conversion rate. And of course, the lower the return rate of your products. Poor photography also intangibly affects your brand. Do yourself a favor and hire a professional photographer.

Now it is time to revisit your competitors and test their navigability. Pretend you’re the consumer. Do the categories make sense? Are there any special features that you love? Is there something you hate? Do you wish it had a certain feature to bridge the gap between shopping in-person vs. shopping online?

A great example is something I had built on The Tie Bar when we launched back in 2004. I always had the hardest time shopping for ties in person without seeing how those ties would look with a particular shirt or suit. And no website out there addressed the problem.

So at The Tie Bar, we built a feature on the site that allowed customers to place our ties against the backgrounds of the most common colored (and patterned) shirts and suits. Back in 2004, it was a novel concept and it got us many compliments and mentions in the press. And all I did was discover a pain point in shopping online for ties and attempted to fix it.

So when building your website, make sure to include the features you love and exclude the features you don’t. And if you can come up with a creative add-on to your site, all the better.

Mobile

The last point I’ll make is one covered in a million other places, so I will not belabor the point. Just make sure your site is mobile-friendly.

I will not bore you with the stats (which are everywhere) but suffice it to say that if your website does not translate well into an easy and appealing mobile experience, you’re wasting your time investing in your new beautifully-designed, fully capable website I just talked you into.

Source: www.entrepreneur.com

How to Attract Visitors to Your Site

How to Attract Visitors to Your Site

I see it time and time again: The number-one challenge faced by brand-new internet business owners is a lack of traffic. Obviously, if your website isn’t getting any traffic, you’re not generating any sales. And what’s worse is that without traffic, you can’t test the key components of your sales process. And if you roll out a large traffic campaign before you’ve tested your site to make sure it converts maximum visitors into buyers, you risk losing sales and looking unprofessional to potential business partners and affiliates.

So you’re caught in a vicious cycle: Before ramping up a big traffic campaign, you need to test your sales process, but without any traffic, testing is difficult–if not impossible!

In this article, I’m going to give you an eight-step action plan that will show you:

  • How to get cheap, instant traffic to your website so you can test key components of your sales process–your sales copy, order form, navigation and opt-in offer–before rolling out a large-scale traffic campaign;
  • How to ensure that every element of your sales process is optimized to convert maximum traffic into maximum sales;
  • The most effective strategies for attracting thousands of highly qualified potential buyers to your site right away; and
  • The secret to putting your entire traffic campaign on autopilot.

So even if your site is getting no traffic right now, you can be testing the key elements of your sales process tomorrow–and as soon as two weeks from now, you can be rolling out your traffic campaign in full.

Sound good? Let’s get you started off on the right foot!

Step 1: Get the traffic you need to test your website fast! When I talk about testing with new internet business owners, I hear the same two questions all the time:

  • How do I test my site?
  • What do I test on my site?

As you may already know, there are an infinite number of things you can test on your site to help you increase sales. From layout to copy to design, there are limitless combinations of changes that may improve your visitor-to-sale conversion rate. But what’s “enough” when you’re just starting out? What elements should you focus on testing before rolling out your traffic campaign?

My advice is to stick to the basics. Focus on testing your:

  • Salescopy, especially your headline, benefits, guarantee and call to action
  • Order process, which needs to be simple enough for a novice web user to place an order
  • Opt-in offer, so you can determine if you’re successfully capturing your visitors’ contact information
  • Site navigation, so you can figure out how many clicks it takes to buy. Ideally it should take less than three.

These are the four critical aspects of your sales process that need to be tested before you start driving traffic. Later on, once you’ve generated sales and have some steady traffic, you can move on to testing other parts of your site.

Of course, all this talk of testing your new site raises one big question: How can you test without traffic? Because if you’re just getting started, chances are good that your website doesn’t get much traffic yet.

The solution is simple: Buy traffic through PPC search engines. Pay-per-click search engines are a lot like auctions–they allow you to bid for top-ranking positions under keywords of your choice. For each visitor who searches the keyword(s) you bid on and then clicks through to your site, you pay whatever you bid. Prices typically range from five cents to a few dollars per click-through for popular keywords.

There are a ton of PPC search engines out there, but the two best ones to get started with are:

With PPC search engines, you get cheap, instant, qualified traffic–provided you bid on targeted keywords. Not only that, but bidding on traffic in the PPC search engines can help your site get ranked in the free search engines, too!

Here are a few tips to help you start bidding for traffic without breaking the bank:

In Yahoo Search Marketing, bid to appear in the top three listings whenever possible, since these results are also “pushed” to appear in the search results for MSN, Yahoo, AltaVista, InfoSpace, AlltheWeb and NetZero–reaching 80 percent of all internet users.

Bid on targeted, descriptive keywords. So don’t just bid on “sock;” bid on “red wool sock.” Not only are targeted keywords and phrases usually cheaper to bid on–they’ll also attract more qualified potential buyers. Use a keyword selection tool like Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool to research targeted keywords that attract maximum traffic for minimal cost-per-click.

After you’ve tested and tweaked your site with a limited amount of purchased traffic, it’s time to start generating qualified traffic for your site on a larger scale. But how do you go from some traffic to a ton of traffic?

Step 2: Get cheap traffic quickly with PPC advertising. Once you’ve tested your site with limited PPC traffic, the fastest way to ramp up traffic to your site is to roll out a PPC campaign on a larger scale. Obviously, you should start with Yahoo Search Marketing and Findwhat, as mentioned above.

This is also a great time to get started with Google AdWords –Google’s own PPC contender. With Google AdWords, you get instant traffic with no waiting. Because as soon as you put the money down on your keywords, your ad goes up and starts working for you.

Step 3: Get free traffic from search engines like Google. Now that you’ve bid on keywords for a strong showing in the PPC search engines, it’s time to tackle the organic search engines and directories. Search engines like Google and directories like Yahoo! can still be a great source of free traffic for your website. The trick is getting a competitive ranking for your best keywords.

The first step in getting a top ranking in the search engines is to submit or suggest your site to them. In other words, you have to provide them with details about your site. You want to make sure that the “spiders”–automated programs that crawl the web indexing sites for the search engines–find your site and include it in the search results.

While the spiders do index sites and pages that haven’t been submitted, you certainly don’t want to leave this to chance. A spider might find your website and index it next week–or it might be two years before that finally happens. So take the time to submit your site to be sure you’re included. Once your site’s been submitted, expect it to take two to six weeks for your listing to appear.

Every engine has a slightly different process for site submission, and it pays to follow their guidelines. For example, there’s a fee to list your site in the directory at Yahoo!, but Google doesn’t charge for their submission process. Here’s a tip: If you submit your site exactly as they ask, you stand a better chance of getting a good listing on the first page of search results.

And don’t bother with companies that offer to submit your site to the search engines. Since each search engine uses a different set of criteria to rank your site, free submission services can actually end up doing you more harm than good, since they submit the same information in the same way to all the engines.

Steps 4-8

Step 4: Give away irresistible free content for priceless publicity. Believe it or not, a really easy, frequently undervalued strategy for getting traffic is giving away free content to other websites. Even just two or three well-written articles can generate truckloads of traffic, as long as they don’t contain a sales pitch. You want to include rare, hard-to-get information that’ll lend your articles automatic value–the kind of information that establishes you as an expert in your field.

Once you’ve finished an article, write a short bio paragraph about you and your business and place it at the end of your article along with–and this is the most important part–a link to your site.

To locate sites that might be interested in your content, e-mail other website owners in your industry–be sure to choose sites that receive attention and visits from your target market–and invite them to use your article on their site or in their newsletter at absolutely no cost. Many site owners need fresh content, so they’ll be more than happy to post your articles–and it won’t be long before those articles start driving traffic back to your site.

Your articles will automatically be made available to thousands of websites seeking free, quality content–and all you have to do is submit your articles once.

Don’t underestimate the power of giving away free content. And as your articles gain more exposure, don’t be surprised if you’re contacted by high-profile magazine and portal sites related to your industry looking for free articles to include on their sites, too.

Step 5: Get free word of mouth publicity using viral marketing. Simply defined, viral marketing is a way for you to spread your marketing message like a virus. You encourage people to pass on information about your site to others, and you use that word-of-mouth publicity to advertise your business. Once you start the “virus,” it spreads without you lifting a finger.

Need an example? Try Hotmail.com , the free web-based e-mail service provider. At the bottom of every single Hotmail e-mail sent by Hotmail members, there’s a simple one-line message:

“Get your free, private email from MSN at http://www.hotmail.com”

How much time do you think it took Hotmail to include that signature line as part of their e-mail service? Not much at all–but look at the impact this simple strategy had on the growth of their business. In my personal experience, more than 35 percent of all e-mail users have Hotmail accounts!

You can easily duplicate this strategy by doing something as simple as including a “pass it on link” at the end of a free newsletter, something as simple as:

“If you’ve enjoyed this article, please be sure to forward it to a friend!”

By simply asking readers to take action and forward your newsletter, you’ll prompt free word of mouth exposure for your business without any extra cost or hassle.

How else can you put viral marketing to work for you? Here are a few simple ideas:

  • Give away free articles (like the ones I describe in Step 4) that include a “pass it on” link.
  • Give away free demos of your product.
  • Offer a free trial of your service with a “share this great resource” button on the page.
  • Hold a contest on your site, and give participants an extra entry for every friend they refer.
  • Start an affiliate program (see Step 7 below).

As you can see, you don’t need to be the next Hotmail to get started with viral marketing. By simply encouraging people to “share this resource with friends,” you can attract some great word-of-mouth traffic.

Step 6: Get free links on other high-traffic websites. Link requests require minimal effort from you, but they can absolutely explode your traffic numbers overnight. How? If your site is a featured link on a major site in your industry–one that receives a ton of attention–your site immediately benefits from all the exposure their site receives.

Getting started with this strategy is simple, but you should follow a standard process every time you request a link. Let’s break it down into a few easy steps:

  1. Do a Google search for your standard keywords–the ones that people generally use to find your site.
  2. Make detailed notes about the sites that appear regularly in the top ten listings for your major keywords.
  3. Use the Alexa Toolbar , LinkPopularity or Technorati to find out what other sites these sites are linking to, whose linking to themand how much traffic they’re receiving, then look up their contact information.
  4. Before making contact, make sure you know the correct URL for the site, the URL of the sub-page on which you want your link to appear, the name of the site owner or webmaster, the date you last visited their site, and a brief description of the contents of the site.

When you’re ready to contact the owners of these website and request a link, write a personal e-mail–don’t use form letters. Be sure to include some positive comments about their site, information about you and your site (along with your URL), an explanation of why a link to you would benefit them, and instructions for contacting you to get started.

You want your request to be thorough and professional. If you can present a persuasive argument for why the link request benefits both of you, you stand a better chance of forging a connection. And if you’re really eager to get your link on their site, be prepared to up the ante by offering them a commission or a link on your site in return. The investment could be well worth the extra exposure your marketing message receives.

When other businesses request links on your site, my advice is, be stingy. Just as links on others’ sites serve as a personal recommendation of your site, links on your site are recommendations for their businesses. Only recommend the best!

Okay, now let’s talk about the ultimate linking strategy.

Step 7: Get thousands of websites to promote your business for free.Imagine hundreds, even thousands, of websites promoting your product or service without spending a dime until someone refers a paying customer. You can do this with what’s called an affiliate program.

Affiliate programs–also referred to as “reseller” or “associate” programs–are a great way to get other people (called “affiliates”) to promote your product or service for you. For every paying customer your affiliates refer to your site, you pay them a commission. And since you only pay when you make money, it’s an extremely low-risk option.

Here’s how it works: Your affiliates send visitors to your site using banner ads, text links, letters of referral and so on, while you track these referrals using special software. It’s an extremely powerful way to grow your business because it automates your traffic generation. To get started with your own affiliate program, you need to:

  1. Establish your commissions. To keep your affiliates motivated, you should pay them 40 to 50 percent of your profits per sale.
  2. Get software to track the traffic and sales of your affiliates so you know what to pay them.
  3. Provide your affiliates with tools they can use to promote your products, such as e-mails, banners and so on.
  4. Recruit more affiliates. Look for sites that target your market, and invite them to become affiliates.

Affiliate programs are an ideal way to automate your traffic generation because other people are marketing your site for you. Your sales increase on a daily basis–but your affiliates do all the selling for you, and it doesn’t cost you a dime until they send you paying customers.

Now, for the final step, let’s talk about what you need to do to keep your traffic coming back to your site again and again.

Step 8: Use e-mail marketing to attract repeat visitors. Getting lots of traffic to your site is great, but if you aren’t collecting the contact information–the names and e-mail addresses–of visitors, you’re wasting every single click. If visitors leave your site without buying your product, there’s a good chance they won’t ever be back–and you’ll have absolutely no way of following up with them.

Remember: It can take up to seven points of contact to make a single sale, so you’ll want to begin collecting visitors’ contact information from day one using an opt-in form on your home page. Then send them e-mail messages to follow up and keep them thinking about your site. Need some ideas for e-mails you could send to follow up with your opt-in subscribers? Try these ideas:

  • Monthly or bi-weekly newsletters that include tons of tips and information
  • Free reports on topics your market would appreciate
  • Answers to common questions people ask about your product
  • Offers for products similar or complementary to ones you may have already offered them
  • Free product trials that give potential customers a taste of what you have to offer
  • A “downgrade” offer for a product that’s less expensive or robust than your featured offer

Following up with the addresses you gather is quick, easy and simple with e-mail management and automation software. You can create e-mail messages called “autoresponders” that potential customers receive automatically as soon as they opt-in on your site–within seconds–no matter what time of day it is or whether you’re even at your desk!

That’s right: As soon as your visitors opt in, they’ll start hearing from you on a regular basis without you having to deal with the stress of writing a ton of e-mails to individual addresses. This is a process you can put on autopilot from the very beginning.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, we’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, so I think it’s only fair I point out that, before you dive into any of these strategies, you’ll need to do a bit more reading and research on each of these topics in order to understand these tactics in depth. What I’ve given you is simply a clear roadmap of exactly what you need to do first, second and third to test your website to maximize conversion rates and then roll out an effective traffic campaign that attracts swarms of potential buyers–automatically–for years to come. But reading more on each topic will help figure out exactly what you need to do for your site to make it a success.

Before I wrap up this article, I’d like to make one last point. Over the years, I’ve noticed a common thread that links all our most successful clients who have internet businesses: They have all focused on implementing one or two marketing strategies really well.

So don’t feel like you need to become an expert in all the strategies I’ve covered here. Focus on becoming really proficient at one or two–because this may be all you need to dramatically increase your traffic–and sales.

Source: www.entrepreneur.com

7 Tips to Build a Business While Working a Day Job

7 Tips to Build a Business While Working a Day Job

Many people dream of leaving their nine-to-five jobs to start their own businesses. Many successful entrepreneurs had to keep their day jobs until they reached a point in their businesses when it was feasible to quit. This transition time can be stressful and difficult, especially when you don’t enjoy your job, but it doesn’t have to be.

While ambition is important, it is not always enough to move you forward. Maintaining your motivation and drive during your transition from employee to entrepreneur is crucial. It’s easy to veer off course and get discouraged during this transitional phase. Here are some actions you can start taking immediately while you’re still at your day job that will keep you on track and moving forward.

1. Get crystal clear on your reason for starting your business.

Connecting with your “why” is the most important first step you can take. Maybe you are motivated by being your own boss, financial independence, time freedom, creative expression, being home with your kids or helping others. Whatever your reason, knowing what motivates and drives you is what will keep you focused and committed to your dream when times get difficult.

2. Commit yourself to your dream.

Having the desire for something to work vs. committing to it are vastly different. When you commit to your dream, you are making a binding obligation to see it through to success. It means you are “all in,” you find solutions when faced with obstacles and you don’t quit, no matter what. Make that pledge to yourself, and then tell the people in your life.

3. Create a personal vision for your business.

Think about what you want in your business a year from now and write it down. Be very specific and detailed. Describe in great detail in the present tense your ideal day, what activities you engage in, who your customers/clients are, how many customers/clients you have and what your monthly income is.

Read your vision aloud every morning and evening, focusing completely on the end result — your vibrant, flourishing business. By keeping your focus on the result, you will be able to make the day-to-day choices to ignore any negative thoughts that may arise.

4. Join a mastermind group.

A mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring group that meets regularly to support each other, brainstorm ideas and share advice and work through challenges together. A mastermind group can be excellent for helping you stay accountable and motivated.

There are mastermind groups that meet in person, online or on the phone. To find a mastermind group, Meetup is a great place to start. If you cannot find one to join, then create your own with people who are also starting a business.

5. Immerse yourself in learning.

Research and study anything you can find that is pertinent to your business. The Internet provides an abundance of valuable information on building a successful business. Take courses, hire a coach or find a mentor. Listen to podcasts or audiobooks during your morning commute. The more you learn and become an expert in your area, the more self-assured, motivated and successful you will be.

6. Stay positive about your day job.

Every day, acknowledge something you appreciate about your job. Perhaps you enjoy your co-workers or always having holidays off. Maybe it’s just the free coffee or your comfortable chair.

The point is to look for the good things. The more you focus on what is positive about your current situation, the more success you will bring to all situations, including your business. Negative thoughts drain your energy, making it far more difficult to move forward with your dream.

7. Set daily goals.

Take small, measurable action steps each day toward your business, understanding there will be times when it seems like you are making no progress at all. Much of the work, in the beginning, will be tedious day-to-day tasks. Realize it is all part of building your business. By taking steps each day, which includes doing the mundane, you will start seeing results. The more progress you make, the more confidence and determination you have to keep moving forward.

By taking these actions while still working your day job, you will stay focused, motivated and committed to making your dream a reality. It will also make the time spent at your job seem to go by faster.

Source: www.entrepreneur.com