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Do you want to make serious business from your website?

The answer is, of course, yes – and you can do it.

Here you get the 10 most important secrets of success selling through a website, the one you have or the one you intend to create, but haven't been bothered with – until now.
It's not only entirely possible for you to start selling services and products from a website, it's verging on a crime not to act now. You may have felt it in the air already – there's a completely new internet beginning to emerge.

1. The secret is to understand the new internet possibilities
Many businesses built websites with great enthusiasm a few years ago. A new Klondike loomed for us. It would inject clients and money automatically just by having a website.
But then nothing happened.
The counters counted visitors, but most were from our own visits. Still, we could write ”www” on the business card, but it didn't generate any business - how could we make the website make us money?   It was natural to look at the giant internet-players, listen to the gurus and watch young men in orange fleeces tell us how money was made. We know what happened, but I'm not going to say” what did I tell you ”or something like that. Instead, I bow my head with gratitude for those giants who went before us, who sprinkled money around and laid out the path for us. There were a lot of us (mostly small businesses) watching as the elephants danced straight into a bottomless swamp, laughing and blinded by intoxication. And as the money went up in smoke, the giants fell. But they did something good as well. They mapped out a path for us that work on smaller scales. They taught us just what the internet is and they showed us the amazing opportunities that are out there. Now a new generation rises after crashes, after the overpriced stocks and the toy money. The new generation is you and me. We have small businesses without giant money vacuum cleaners that scream for one million per minute. It's important to understand this and not give up just because the elephants fell. Look at the internet today. There are two categories out there: Those who learned and prosper and those who gave up and let the business on their website slowly die. Which category do you belong to? The secret to success is actually all about making a decision.

2. The secret is to think of profit first
The idea of ​​your website needs to be something that adds another dimension that the things you sell in the real world lacks. Whatever you do, your idea must ultimately mean profit.
The question you should always ask yourself is this: “How will I ultimately be able to gain profit for what I do now with my website?” This is where most small business owners fail in their eagerness to get online. They set up a website, throw in a little information and a lot of  bling (it's so much fun) and when that's done, they can tell the whole world that they too have a website. After that everything just goes slowly downhill. Why? Well, because if you don't make any money from the website, you'll lose interest in it. You simply have to know that you are making money on the website, or it will collapse and end up even further down on your priority list. This is a natural law of any business.

3. The secret is to know what to sell
You can sell anything online.
It could be your products, your services, it could be direct sales via the website or indirectly by customers who get information about your products or services there and make the purchase elsewhere. Perhaps your website is used to create a first contact. You can sell information about your company. You can sell images. You can sell ideas. Whatever your motive is, you must be set to sell when you launch your website. It doesn't matter if you don't sell tangible products with vending carts and cash functions. It's still ultimately about selling your business and the idea behind it.

4. The secret is to understand what the internet is and what it's not

In a sense, we have all been cheated and the most important reason for this is that it's been the wrong people who have guided the development of the internet. The network should be full of teachers instead of techniques. Give us the technology, that's the premise, but it's the content that counts. The technology is the paper around the chocolate bar. The technology is the bus, but not the driver. The technology is the plate, not the food. I can go on endlessly with discussions like this with technicians. The key is that all the content on a website is about communicating things. I would go so far as to say that the old internet is masculine and technology driven and the new internet is feminine and is driven by relationships and content. And it's the new internet that create sales.

5. The secret is that you can make content on your pages that is exactly what your visitors want
You have to realize that valuable assistance to special interest groups = smart.
Do you have the courage to be known for something special, a niche? Some companies don't think they have anything important to offer on their websites – so they don't even try.
Instead, they present a pile of empty rhetoric about ”customers first” and other mumbo-jumbo that enters through the eye and goes into the brain where it finally ends up in a heap where it says ”out of fashion ” on a sign. Being shy is considered a virtue by many, but on the internet it's the opposite. In the online world companies that don't show their very best may attract visitors, but they visit once and never again. This doesn't mean that everything that's communicated on the website must be pressed in the minds of visitors or, god forbid – self-glorification - but you still need to tell people about your strengths.
For instance, perhaps you are good at explaining complicated things in an easy and understandable manner, perhaps you can teach your customers something new. This is a way to get visitors to return to the website. You automatically become an information bank in your area and you get a lot of goodwill for it. The advantage of providing visitors with free, smart and specialized content is that your business automatically will be regarded as knowledgeable and trustworthy. These are all factors that create sales.

6. The secret is to build pages on your most desired response
What would it look like if you came for a visit with your customer with 300 options of your product, other people's products and things that are not related to your business at all? Some companies seem to think that by babbling about other things on their websites, they can make the pages seem more harmless and less sales-oriented (to many people it's ugly to sell). You think you can get the customers in a good mood with lots of riff-raff and when they least expect it, they have bought something.
But that's not going to happen. Why? There are several reasons. Firstly, the visitor will probably not have landed on your website by pure chance - he/she went there because he/she is interested in what you have to offer and the fewer options you have on the pages, the easier it is to make decisions for your visitors. Secondly, you create confusion and remove the visitor's focus of why he/she went there. What starts with an intention to buy from you leads to the visitor leaving your website for something more exciting because you have links that will make the visitor forget why he/she came to your website in the first place.   All your pages must lead the visitor to the next logical part of the website, but not only that. All the pages should also lead the visitors to where you want them to go. Build a staircase to the most desired responses you can think of. Number 1 can be to get an order, number 2 that they get in touch and make a query and number 3 that they subscribe to your newsletter. Make sure there is contact information so they can make an inquiry in a way that doesn't feel binding. Ensure that it's possible to order a brochure and that there is processes put in place to send it. Make sure you have a newsletter that is worth something to the visitor to subscribe to. Everything you do on your pages should support your most wanted response.

7. The secret is to be able to be found by people other than your friends
Want to hear something weird?
The majority of small businesses in Sweden have not yet gone online even though they are there. It's actually true. Most companies that exist online do not understand the concept of launching a website and therefore, in their minds it only exists as proof that technology is pushing things forward, sometimes without thought. They usually have no idea about how to optimize the pages (it's not as complicated as it sounds) to get traffic from search engines and they seldom if ever have any ideas of a strategy to get the right traffic through links. Moreover, the website isn't supported by any activities outside the network apart from a sleek ”visit our website” in the ads. Being able to be found by other websites and search engines are important and it's also much easier than you think to create such partnerships.

8. The secret is that working with your website pays off
A successful business online means that you're working on many fronts simultaneously. You set up a website with smart content. You have your newsletter. You register your website to the search engines and directory services. You're active in discussion groups, you have partners who sell your products and you have links to your website from other pages. You have a good statistical function that is mercilessly honest. In addition, you use your email smart by having auto-responder, pre-written letters and so on. You also make sure that you do things offline to draw traffic to your website. The end result is that you will soon have a fantastic seller that informs and sells your products or services 24/7, all year round. You can directly answer a request or thank someone for an order in the middle of the night -  automatically. While you're asleep, the orders keep coming in and maybe they are sent directly to the distribution department.

9. The secret is to keep a close eye on your web designer
This is vitally important – and I stress the vital importance for your website - that you really understand that the marketer's perspective on what web design is often is quite different from what most web designers are actually doing with the pages.  A web designer is not an authorized title. Most people who call themselves web designers are good at putting things on pages to make them visible online, but that doesn't always equal to a good sense at communicating a message. When was the last time a web designer asked you about the purpose  your website?
Good web design equals when someone visits your website for information and leaves satisfied with what he/she got. That's the secret to a real good web design.
When the website is visible to your target audience and is visually appealing, easy to use and loads fast - then you've accomplished good design work. Does your web designer understand this? Does your web designer understand that there is no connection between looking successful on the web and actually being successful? You have valuable knowledge about your products and your customers that your web designer lacks. Don't let your own lack of knowledge about the technical aspects of the internet result in you showing more respect for a web designer's opinion than they deserve.

10. The secret is to understand that your website and/or online presence can actually do all this:
• You can sell directly from the website.
• You can impress customers and partners with a well made website.
• You can reduce your costs of printing products.
• You can inform customers much more than you do now.
• You can make it easier to get feedback from customers.
• Your competitors are online. You must be there too.
• Your competitors are not online. You can be the first in your line of business.
• You can search for new staff through your website.
• You can provide service to your local customers where you tell them about discounts, opening hours etc..
• Your website can give you credibility because you can expand and really penetrate into your subject area to show people that you really know what you're talking about.
• You can produce professional and timely customer lists.
• You can get access to insightful information about your competitors.
• You can produce your own newsletter or catalog.
• You can get customers you never would have gotten otherwise.
• You can make quick and valuable research.
• Customers who have already visited the website when they call you have already all the information they need. They are already hooked on your range of products.
• Your information online is available 7 days a week 24 hours a day.
• You can have your website as a support for your retailer.
• To ensure that customers can order brochures or sales materials.
• Even if you don't intend to sell on the website directly, you can still get the customer's names.
• You can allow visitors to subscribe to a newsletter, or participate in a contest to build a database of names.
• People may not buy your most expensive product online, but your main goal may be to create leads to products that you can sell later.
• Your website can enhance your message. You can give away information for free because the information is free for you to spread.
• You can give customers a good chance to get a good impression of your business.
• You can train your staff and everyone else.
• You can have hidden pages that are only available to staff where they can go directly to and get the information they need.
• You can absolutely compete with the big players in your line of business.
• Your online presence can create success offline as well.
• Instead of spending thousands on full color brochures, you can publish the catalog online for the price of the photos alone.
• You can establish corporate identity and brand awareness.
• You can provide visitors with product or company information.
• You can provide customers with service and product support.
• Your website may become your dealer's best resource.
• Your website can help to reduce telephone traffic if you have sufficient information on the pages and make reference to them in your voice mail, for example.
• ... and much more

Have you learned all the secrets are now?
There is no magic in a website that sells, it's just about selling in a strategic manner. You don't have to be a technology freak. You really only need to know what you already know about your current customers' main problems – simply put, helping your clients to solve their problems will make your website profitable.  

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

230 000 prescribes to his free newsletter "The 5 minute marketer"
Every week some 230,000 prescribers gets his free newsletter about 5 minute marketing.

"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.