GUEST BLOG: Tips on starting an ecommerce site from Actinic founder Chris Barling

If you are selling goods that customers do not need to touch, taste or smell before buying, at a fixed price, then the web is the place to be - especially if products are hard for customers to find. The web can offer your customers the convenience of being able to shop when it suits them, without having to travel or queue. And it offers a level of automation and low start up investment that keeps your costs in check, so you can offer keen prices into the bargain. You can check out competition by looking on Google for some of the products that you plan to sell.

Tip 15: What are the key things to turn browsers into buyers?

In short, remove the reasons why people might not buy. Make your website orientated towards sales rather than marketing. When prospects are at the site, the marketing process is complete. So, show them products immediately - don't hide them behind acres of marketing copy. Make sure there's enough information, and probably images, to enable them to make the decision to purchase. Provide full terms and conditions - it looks more professional and it protects you. Give your contact details, including a telephone number. It's the law but it will also boost your sales. Explain your guarantee and returns policy - a rock solid guarantee goes a long way to persuading people to buy. Finally, explain your security and your privacy policy.

Tip 103: Get your email marketing content right.

Once your email is delivered and opened, you have a second or two to catch the reader. Fantastic creativity absoloutely does not guarantee success. For instance there's an issue around images versus text - remember that images are usually initially suppressed with a red cross. The initial pane is likely to be one third the size of the web page - so take this into account. Don't require any scrolling to the right, scrolling down is ok. Most people look at the top of the screen first, so you must hook them on the first part - this is where a logo may or may not be a good idea. A logo may be the only thing the recipient looks at. Certain moods can be engendered by the use of certain colours and fonts so again test them to see what works.

Tip 121: Provide Service.

Although we are principally looking at social networking as a marketing channel, it has another benefit. If you monitor for any mention of your company, you will find queries, and also be able to pick up service issues before they are broadcast too widely and become a big problem within your company. Helping with enquiries and problems boosts the perception of your brand, or service. The key is to remember the connected nature of social networks, recommendations prove to be the best type of sales lead and social networks can act like a megaphone for both praise and condemnation.

Selling successfully online - over 300 top tips for running an ecommerce website is free to download in PDF form or can be bought at Amazon.

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