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Make way for e-business

Online spending is growing rapidly in the UK. E-commerce in 2009 will be worth over £20bn and, experts say, by 2013, online spending will make up for 10% of total retail sales. If you have a product to sell, you’re in a good position, but how to attract customers to buy? Emma Jones offers five recommendations.

1. Make offers

Offer to write content and guest posts for blogs and sites where you know your customers are hanging out. Offer discounts to member groups and communities and offer links to other important sites, in exchange for them linking back to you. The more inbound and outbound links, the higher you’ll appear in the search results.

2. Make some noise

Why not carry out a poll on your site using www.surveymonkey.com and use the results as the basis for a press release. Another tactic that will have you mentioned in the media is celebrity endorsement. This is what Lyndsey Young has done with her product, Count On It, www.count-on-it.co.uk which has received glowing testimonials from the likes of Amanda Holden and Janey Lee Grace, to profitable effect.

3. Make the most of social media

Have as many sites driving traffic to yours as possible. And this is possible by making the most of social media and creating communities on Facebook and Twitter. These applications can now be integrated so you only need to update once and your news/product offers can be communicated to your entire network, with links back to your site. A number of online businesses we profile have their own site as well as a presence on a trading platform such as eBay, BT Tradespace or, for the arts and crafts sector sites such at Etsy, Folksy and MyEhive .

4. Make friends with your customers so they keep coming back

Have your existing customers return by keeping in touch with them and connecting customers to each other. Again, this is where cost-effective technology tools play their part; why not introduce an e-newsletter to your site using a service such as www.mailchimp.com or add a community feature such as that available from www.webjam.com – you can go as far as inviting customers to meet each other ‘virtually’ face-to-face by adopting www.tinychat.com

5. Make yourself known to this site

Contact the site you are reading this on and ask if they’ll profile your story! It’s great to have your company featured in the printed press but if your site is promoted online (with a link) then potential customers are only one click away.

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Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’  This feature appears as part of Episode 3 of Enterprise Nation TV

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About Emma Jones

Emma Jones is Founder and Editor of Enterprise Nation, the home business website. She has successfully started two businesses from home offices in London, Manchester and rural Shropshire. Following a career with an international accountancy firm, Emma started her first home based business at the age of 27 and successfully sold it just 15 months after launch. Redbrick Enterprises Ltd was founded in 2002 to advise the public sector on effective homeworking. Spotting a gap in the market to provide information and inspiration to homeworkers, Emma launched Enterprise Nation [www.enterprisenation.com], the home business website, in January 2006. The website is a free resource for people starting and growing a business at home and has a readership of more than 390,000 people. As well as site content, there is also a free fortnightly e-newsletter and podcast. Emma’s first book on how to start a business from home Spare Room Start Up: How to Start a Business from Home will be published by Harriman House in May 2008.

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