The Buck Starts Here
The Internet is a bit like the gold rush, with thousands of people rushing into largely uncharted land hoping to make their fortunes.
It is a widely held belief that if you build a website, the entire world will be at your virtual doorstep, credit card in hand, ready to buy whatever it is that you are offering. This simply is not true.
Making money online is difficult. Itís not impossible, but it does require a certain amount of dedication and hard work, and a lot of research and forward planning. You canít just build a website and expect people to drop by. This is not Field of Dreams. In the real world, if you build it, they wonít come. Not unless you know what youíre doing.
As anyone involved in ecommerce will tell you, building a site is the easy part. Itís the research you do beforehand and the effort you put in afterwards that determines how successful you are at making money online.
Certainly, everyone is excited about the prospect of making money online. Indeed, it seems an inevitable evolution of current business practices to use the Internet as the primary medium of communication. Unfortunately, few get it right. Although everyone knows that there is money to be made online, few people have figured out how to do it successfully.
There are so many variables to consider and the concept itself is in such a flux Ė as companies try new strategies and redefine business practices Ė that there is no definite answer. A model that works for hundreds of companies may not work for you, and vice versa.
However, there are a few fundamental questions that you should have answers to, and a lot of research that needs to be done before you go online. Armed with this, you stand a much better chance of success in cyberspace, and at some point, you will have to venture online. Itís no longer a question of Ďifí, but rather a question of Ďwhení.
Once you have made a decision to go online, the first thing you need to do is develop a short term (creating an online presence) and long term (the Internet as your primary business vehicle) Internet strategy for your company. Then, you need to extend this to develop a profile of your Internet customers. This is crucial, as it determines the advertising and promotions that, ultimately, will be targeted at your visitors, as well as the kind of content they want, and will, pay for.
Obviously, you have to start by developing a website. While you may think that you can cut costs by designing your own website, this is not a good idea, unless you are an expert in web design. If not, a better idea is to outsource the job to professional web developers and designers who have the knowledge and experience to steer you in the right direction.
Calling the Crowds
Once your site is up and running, you need to focus on attracting people (traffic) to your website. Again, itís a good idea to hire professional marketing or public relations people to help you do this.
The most obvious way to attract people to your site is through carefully placed advertising. But even here, traditional strategies may not help. Companies are finding that banner advertising is no longer as effective as it used to be. Click through rates have gradually dropped over the years as our curiosity about the Internet has diminished. This is not to suggest, though, that all banner ads are ineffectual. Some companies still find this form of advertising highly effective, so donít automatically disregard it.
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