Here we discuss the various aspects of Internet Marketing as it applies to the design of web sites, what it is, why you should be actively engaged in it and some tips on how you might be able to go about developing and implementing your own internet marketing strategy when designing your website.

Understanding your customer when it comes to their buying decisions

It is so often that we find in life that the most simple questions put to us quite often need complicated answers. On a number of occasions I hear the question asked from new clients, “What features should our e-commerce web site have to get customers to buy?”. Most people immediately think in terms of credit card processing, 3rd party payment methods such as PayPal, and Google Checkout. What I suggest is that it be approached from several different angles; providing the right methods of payment is only just the beginning.

The most important place to start is telling visitors what you want them to do. Make sure you have a clear call-to-action (CTA) on your page; several, in fact, if it's long. If you use forms, keep them short; if a customer is excited enough about your product to buy it, you don't want to dissipate that energy by making them jump through hoops.
Next you must do everything possible to create a feeling of trust – in your business as well as your products.

Include clear links to your Conditions of Trade, Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, and any other policies customers need to know about (like shipping and returns). Provide clear, concise good descriptions of your products, including pictures when possible. Add customer reviews or testimonials about your service if you can. For the more sophisticated, provide tracking tools so that, when your customer orders a product, they can find out for themselves where it is and watch its progress between your warehouse and their mailbox. If you can’t do this – provide the means for them to communicate with your customer service people so that any queries can be readily followed up. And organize your site in a professional manner.

What does it mean when we talk of your “professional manner”? That would seem to vary subject to the nature of your business however it does involve thinking like your customer. Customers want to know that they can contact you, and where they need to go to buy, get customer service and technical support, etc. So you must include clear contact information, and you should organise your site to cater to the way your customer thinks. As an example, if you organize your products by manufacturer, enable simple comparison of products for your customer where you have similar products from different manufacturers helping them reach a decision.

Do keeping in mind, essential features for one e-commerce web site might be totally unwanted for another. One member mentioned a post-sale phone call as helpful to encouraging customer loyalty. That's great if your customer bought furniture from you...but perhaps not desirable if they bought adult products. Real success will come form your ability to think like your customer – put yourself in their shoes if you want to know what they look for when they buy. There are lots of ways to do this, but one great way involves adding a feature your customers won't even see and that that no e-commerce web site should be without: tools for determining various web metrics such as Google Analytics. These tools enable you to accurately measure and track visitor patterns – where they came form, how they got to your site, where they went within your site and what they did while they were there. All of this data is very valuable to you in understanding your customer’s thinking. It is not the only tool and certainly not the total answer to your problem but nonetheless, a significant tool that is available for free.

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