Turning the Internet into a profit-making machine is as simple as two things. First, avoid affiliate programs at all costs. They don't work. They are to the Internet in the new millennium what door to door sales were to the 1950s and telemarketing was to the 1980s and the 1990s.
The Internet is a great way to turn a profit. The way to do it, however, is to follow a second simple rule: register your own domain name for your business. When you register your own domain and build a website to represent the services and products that you have to offer, you legitimize your business, whether you own a brick and mortar store or are opening a home business and your store everything in a corner of your garage.
Once you have your domain set up and you're ready to go, you need a way to reach out to the customers who have purchased from you in the past. It is a 90% more efficient use of your marketing funds (and energy!) to keep a customer you already have than to create a new one. The way to hold onto these customers and turn them into regulars is to keep in touch with them. Don't let them forget about you. Offer them incentives to return, such as a discount on certain products or on a certain volume of certain services bought or if they send a new client your way.
How do you keep each one of your customers up to date with all your new offers, especially when you have a new product you're excited about? You start a newsletter! With a newsletter that is as classy as your business, created with a logo and design that is reminiscent of your website, you can reach out to your mailing list and even contact other email addresses that you've culled through your website via emailed questions or email capturing software.
A few things to remember:
* Keep it short and sweet. No one wants to read a novel when they open an email. Say what you have to say in as few words as possible with minimal graphics and vivid words that capture the imagination.
* For all offers, add a time clock. This means that when you tell them that you're offering them a buy one, get one deal, let them know that they have only a certain amount of time to cash in on the deal or else it will be gone!
* Always offer a way out. At the bottom of every newsletter that you send, give instructions on how they can stop receiving the newsletters if they'd like to be taken off the mailing list. Be respectful of these requests and fulfill them post haste.
* In the same vein, don't send out newsletters too often. A newsletter every week for most businesses is too often. Once a month is just about right. Some even choose bi-monthly depending on the type of service or product you offer. If you offer products that are perishable or renewable in a short amount of time, then you may choose to up your newsletter offers a little bit. Customers will be looking to purchase more of your product. If you offer a service or a product that has an indefinite shelf life, then most likely a customer who purchased from you the week before won't be interested in hearing from you just yet.
Whether you send out a newsletter once a month or once a year, making sure that you keep in touch with those who express interest in your domain and what your business has to offer is key to turning the Internet into a profit-making machine.
Holden, Greg. Starting an Online Business for Dummies, 2nd Edition. IDG Worldwide Books, Inc. Foster City, CA: 2000. p.231-34.
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