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Internet marketing: pay less to get more
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The world today is going gaga over the Internet. This unique technology has brought the world into our finger tips making communication easier than ever before. Today, almost everything is available online; for any information, we search the Internet. Parallel to this boom in technology, globalization has made international trade increasingly popular.

For business entrepreneurs, the world is today a single market, and the Internet is the best tool of their trade. Internet marketing techniques are continuously being developed paving way for businesses to explore new horizons everyday.

What is internet marketing?
As the word refers, Internet marketing or E-marketing refers to nothing but marketing of products and services over the Internet. In these day, Internet marketing is regarded as something not for the common people. Initially from the techno-rich countries, the spider web has gradually spread all over the world and E-business has turned to be the up-to-date trend in the business world. New techniques of Internet marketing have continued to come into existence and terms like 'search engine marketing', 'e-mail marketing', 'affiliate marketing', 'blog marketing' have become very familiar to us.

Advantages of online media
In this age of internet, going online is the best and most effective way to promote your products. It is cheaper and have much more advantages as compared to advertising in the print media or in any other forms of traditional media. Find below how online ads can make things easier for you-

One-time investment: Unlike TV commercials, advertising online is a one time investment. There is no need to to print additional copies of a magazine or to create and send direct mail pieces.
Better target consumers: The online community is normally more affluent, better educated and willing to spend money than the population at large. The internet allows you to target exactly who will see your ads. In print and broadcast media it is not possible.
Go global: Online ads can be assessed by anyone from any part of the globe. So, it is far more effective than ads in print media or broadcast media
Instant feedback: When an ad is put online, it allows customers to feedback instantly. No need to fill a form or make a call over the telephone; just a few clicks and the customers ca easily access as much material about your company and products as you care to present.
Unlimited exposure: Besides being very competitive in cost, the exposure of online ads is unlimited. An advertiser has to repeat a 30 second TV ad hundreds of time in a day; and the result is that you have pay more.
Know your target: With online advertising you can send the message to only the audience of your choice. Thus the essence of the ad campaign is not lost. For example, if you are dealing with apparel and want to go for a banner ad in tradeindia's apparel newsletter, it is guaranteed that the entire audience will be from the industry for whom you made the ad. Moreover, most websites allow advertisers to gather detailed information on who saw an ad, when, in what context, how many times and so on.
Immediate transaction: Unlike traditional advertising, online advertising is not a one-way mechanism. In a traditional media like TV or newspaper, all you can give a toll free number or an email id. But when you advertise online, a customer a few clicks away from your product. He can access detail information about the product, about your company, and buy the product online.
Beware of internet frauds
The Internet offers us a global marketplace. Consumers and business from all over the world today recognize the potential of this great market. But like in any other place, Internet is not free from scammers and frauds. These people are are very cunning and being smart it is not enough to protect yourself from them. It is not only individuals who are targets for a variety of illegal schemes but also small as well as large business organizations. In its annual report (2007) of on victims' complaints received, the Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3 of USA, a partnership of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, has placed business frauds among the top seven categories of complaints referred. The center has also stated the following tips to protect your business from such form of Internet fraud.

FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation, USA) tips
Purchase merchandise from reputable dealers or establishments.
Try to obtain a physical address rather than merely a post office box and a phone number, call the seller to see if the number is correct and working.
Send them e-mail to see if they have an active e-mail address and be wary of those that utilize free e-mail services where a credit card wasn't required to open the account.
Consider not purchasing from sellers who won't provide you with this type of information.
Purchase merchandise directly from the individual/company that holds the trademark, copyright, or patent.
Beware when responding to e-mail that may not have been sent by a reputable company.
A few more tips by SME Times experts
Don't get excited. Use your common sense to understand the offer; does he want to buy your product without asking about the price or quality? Has he accepted the deal without bargaining? Is he very quick to know your account number? Analysis all these things and only after that take the next step.
Do not provide financial account information of your company unless there is a good reason to do so.
Get all the terms and conditions, modes of payment, sales conditions, quality inspection, etc. in writing.
Always choose Letter of Credit (L/C) or Escrow as payment methods. Check the L/C number, opening date & place, name & address of the issuing bank, valid date, shipping date, etc.
If you are an exporter or supplier, request for a nominal payment for samples. On the other hand, if you are a buyer, ask for samples to ensure that the product quality meets your expectation.
Build trust to increase your online sales
Trust is essential for business transactions. In online business, it has always been the biggest challenge to establish one's credibility and build trust. Now a days, anyone can build a website for a few hundred rupees and start some kind of e-business. But to earn the trust of the customers and to succeed in business is not as simple as building a website. You must have establish your credibility in order to earn customers. But how can you do that?...is the biggest question!

The following points will help you get some idea how to face this greatest challenge in online business:
Take Professional Help: It is always better to take professional help. Register yourself with a B2B portal and get a readymade clientele. Moreover the services offered by B2B portals will help you in many ways than one. It is always easier to know the credentials of the customer you meet through a B2B portal. Moreover registering with a B2B portal increases your authenticity.
Branding: Try to establish your brand in the market. Follow a well defined branding strategy to do this. No doubt, you will find several big boys, but don't loose heart. What is needed is to earn credibility through your own merit.
Customer service: Customer service is the key to success in any business. Your entire business, marketing, sales and profits depend upon how much successful you are catering to the requirements of your customers and how you your products and services making their lives better.
Website design: Get you website designed in a way so that it can impact your visitors. Try to make it look it professional to hook the visitors and compel them to spend more and more time at your site.
Usability: It is another characteristic of your site upon which establishing your credibility greatly depends. Put all the information in a well organized way and add user friendly features for navigation. Place information about your products or services in the homepage so that visitors can easily find them.
Information: In order to attract buyers, one needs to build trust and one of the best ways to do so is to provide the maximum available information. The more the information is, the more will be trust over the competitors or other members. Start with providing strong trade profile, number of employees, year of inception, special features, benefits, detailed product specification with specific product names/ keywords, prices, shipping and payment terms, etc.
Helping buyers know more about your company is an invitation for them to trust you. And when they contact after going through the full content, the inquiries will be more qualified and easier to take action on.

How to make your company's website more effective?
Whether your business is fully online or your company website just is merely a part of your marketing strategy for internet users, you can easily improve the effectiveness of your site following a few steps stated below. These are just a starting point and best suits to the requirements of a small business to increase the number of online visitors.
Make your website look professional: Treat the website as seriously as other business promotional measures. If you make it look like something designed by a child, it will certainly reflect on your company's name and you even lose potential customers. In these day, most of the website designers teach how to update the site by yourself. Make the website user friendly and attractive and put detail information about the products and services your company offers.
Change your web page title: Search engines like Google, Altavista, Yahoo, etc. place importance upon what is written in the title of every page on your site rather than looking for content written in a whole page. So, try to make the title more effective; for example, if it is ' Style Boutique' ( your company name), you can change it to 'Jewellery Style Boutique' which will also hint at the nature of your business
Learn some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) skills: Improving web page titles is an effective SEO skill but there are lot more to improve the search engine ranking of your website. Things like using keywords in each page and text for site navigation are a few steps that you can easily learn within minutes.
Submit your site to web directories: Submission to industry portals and web directories can easily earn your website direct traffic. It can also help your site get better search engine rankings. Another effective way is to search for related websites and try to get them to link to you.
Start an online newsletter: Starting a newsletter is a very powerful way to to develop relationship with potential customers. Letting your customers to know about your new products and sales, about latest industry trends and standards helps to establish a continuous and effective relationship with the customers.
Start a blog: A good blog started by your company may give you potential customers a reason to come back to your website again and again. Regularly update the blog and put in it latest news in your industry. Add more and more features you can think of and persuade your customers to keep themselves busy with you.
These days, the Internet is regarded all over the world as a great resource for any business. It can help a business reach new markets and make itself more competitive by making a perfect remote connection between buyers and sellers, no matter wherever in this world they are located. Thus, online selling can have major advantages for businesses leading to increased profitability and success. As more and more people than ever are purchasing goods and services online in these days, online business has become a hot popular trend among the businesses from every corner of this globe, especially for those which have well-defined, fixed price products that can be sold without, and products or services that can be delivered with a predictable lead time.

What you require for creating an online shop?
The requirements for creating an online shop are fairly straightforward. What you need to get your business visible online are a computer, Internet access, email, a website and hosting services. Use a broadband connection to ensure fast connection to the net and also a firewall to prevent unauthorised access of your site. For online transaction, so that your clients can pay you by debit or credit card, you can create a electronic mail order forms using various web authoring software. If your company already has a website you can add e-commerce functionality to it using some software available in the market. Alternatively, you can also create an intermediate-level online shop using an e-commerce package which will provide you with a professional looking design, full payment functionality and e-commerce features like customer references, account information, etc.

What to keep in mind while planning your online shop?
Your business must be able to deliver goods or services within a reasonable time period, ideally within 24 hours.
You must have a well defined mechanism to collect the payment.
Your online shop must be able to maintain high level of security. Inform your customers how and what kind of security you can provide.
Be ready to give feedback to your customers. You may need to hire extra staff to handle calls, emails and queries from your customers.
Keep yourself well informed about the regulatory requirements your business must comply with.
Making your online shop effective
Your online business to be successful, the target customers must find your website. The best way to ensure it is to submit your website to search engines like Google, MSN, Yahoo, Altavista, etc. Also try to negotiatate joint ventures with other sites and publicise your site through related websites. Do not ignore the traditional media too. Advertise your site in newspapers, magazines, and on the TV, and never forget to mention your website address to all emails, letterheads, promotional bags, corporate gift items, and business vehicles. Remember that most of the search engines take several months to list a new website.

A well planned online shop can put a business at the height of success within a few years. Most online shops fail because of basic mistakes that are easily rectified. When selling over the Internet, you cannot establish a personal contact with your customers. It is therefore necessary to make your website as user-friendly as possible. Customers always look for an online shop which is well designed and easy to use, and reliable. Getting all these things right, along with providing up-to-date information, straightforward ordering process, reliable product or service, efficient delivery and customer support service will certainly make your online business a great success.

Promoting your products over the internet
Product promotion is of great importance in any business. How you are going to promote and market a new products depend partly on the type of product that you are marketing, and partly, on your target audience- the people to whom you are going to sell your product. While promoting your products, what usually come first into our mind huge hoardings and TV commercials. But if your company has a limited budget, you should better go for some relatively cheap methods like distributing flyers and putting up posters at significant places. Or you can simply go for advertising over the internet; it is probably the most effective, cheapest, and, needless to say, the fastest and easiest to be disseminated.

How the internet can be used to promote your product? Placing ads on some good websites can add great value to your promotions. In these days, selling the product via email is also regarded great online marketing solution. In this method, just getting into the inbox of a huge target audience often results to be fruitful beyond expectation. By the mechanism of emails, an organization is able to spread the word about a particular product or service without too much effort. Just write out the promotional well, email it to as much internet users as possible, and tempt the readers to buy the product you have launched or going to launch.

Another smart idea for paying less and getting more is to register as a member of a B2B and B2C web portals. These platforms are designed for business for effective communication with other businesses and end users. Here, you can easily post leads to generate maximum business inquiries and communicate with a massive client base without loitering here and there. If your company has your own website, it is also a good idea to increase the visibility of the website in the result pages of the major search engines such as google, yahoo, altavista, etc. With a little bit SEO (Search Engine Optimization) skills, you can make the best of the internet in product promotion and advertising.

Almost all business houses are today using it increasingly as a great marketing tool. Compared to tradition methods, internet marketing is fast, easy to handle and cheap. The number of internet users are growing everyday and for the business entrepreneurs, nothing can be more effective than using this magic media as a marketing and advertising tool for product promotion.

Start business networking
You are an SME and you want to promote your business through online business networking but you have no idea how should you start! Browse the Internet and there you will find so many web-based networking groups. Just choose a search engine like Google and Altavista and type the keywords ‘online business networks’. Now look at the result pages and choose a site that appeals to you. Don't get excited. Join only one at first and try to understand what a business networking site is all about. Find here some useful tips for starters-
Put your profile: Fill up this section giving details of your professional life and your photograph. You may also put a a small amount about your family life. If you have a company website, mention its URL.
Join in: Now it is the time to look at other peoples profiles. Send immediate 'hello' to people that interest you. Then start sending post regularly. Never forget to put your website URL beside your name (if your are allowed to do so by the forum).
Be helpful: Like in any other communication, you must be open and friendly in business networking to find people more responsive to you. If possible, answer the queries of other people and share information with them. It may not earn some would be clients or partners.
Keep in touch: Keep in touch with everyone with whom you have already made a good contact. Remember that every contact you have has contacts of his or her own.
Never spam: Spamming can be very harmful to you. You may get your membership canceled. Nor sent the same message o more than one forum member. It gives a bad impression.
Don't be impatient : Don't try to sell your products or services in your every single post. it is annoying.
Business networking is the process of of establishing relationship with clients, customers or other businesses. It serves many purposes from sales, general marketing, recruiting to knowledge exchange and business development. With the increasing popularity of the Internet technology, business networking in these days has become much more effective and easier than ever before. You may not reach the massive numbers of people through this process that print or broadcast advertising allows you. But business networking is very effective in reaching highly qualified prospective customers. It is fast and offers great ways to identify and connect with potential customers and partners.

How B2B portals help you promote your business
With the boom in e-commerce and Internet marketing, online Business-to-Business (B2B) portals and marketplaces are becoming much more prevalent. These B2B portals act as a bridge between buyers and sellers, importers and exporters, and offer them a common platform availing a bundle of some most useful services. No matter whether you are an exporter or importer, manufacturer or service provider, these online portals offer readymade lists of exporter and importers to help you quickly locate the exact item or company you are looking for.

Unlike in B2C (Business to Consumers) marketing, B2B operations involve exchange of products, services, or information between businesses rather than business and end users. Based on the understanding of what businesses buy/sell and how they buy/sell, B2B Portals offer message boards where users can view buy & sell trade leads and post their own leads to generate maximum business inquiries. Trade leads are often preferred over conventional contact methods and they can be acquired from the the convenience of home and as per one's own schedule.

Although B2B business models are sometimes categorized as Brokering Sites, Information Sites, Specialized Industry Portals, it seems that models for B2B business is still evolving. In these days, most of the B2B portals available on the net fall into more than one of the aforesaid categories. They also offer extensive information about Foreign Trade Policy, Union Budgets, Trade Fairs, Newsletters and Business News, etc. Along with these utilities, what is most striking about B2B portals is that they minimize the expense required for advertising and marketing of a brand. For small and medium business, B2B is therefore the ultimate cost effective way open up an entire new world of trade opportunities at the international level.
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