Updated May 2008 by Rae Montgomery , University of Minnesota Extension, email@example.com Workshop Time: 6 hours (including breaks and hands-on activities). Ahead of time: Print handouts of the PowerPoint presentation for the participants. Also print copies of the Internet Business Plan Checklist. Hints: Move through the slides fairly quickly. Unless a slide is a demo, video, or hands-on activity, keep each slide to 1-2 minutes. The hands-on activity time can be cut back a couple minutes for each activity if you’re running short of time. Give the participants frequent breaks.
Electronic commerce is more than selling online; it's using online resources and tools to do business better--more efficiently and productively. It's about making and saving money online. Some companies may be able to profitably sell products and services online, but all companies can save money by using the Internet for business research and services. Small businesses may even have an edge on the Net if they can effectively exploit niche markets or develop a reputation for superior service.
75% of American adults are connected to the Internet 50% have a broadband connection at home 66% of Internet users have purchased something online What are the factors that influence who is online? Age, income and education. Younger, educated, high income. Sources: PEW Internet & American Life Project (pewinternet.org) Sep07 Survey, Dec07 Survey, Online Shopping 2/13/08 Ask how many of the class participants bought something in the past year. 60% of small businesses have websites Source:E-Biz: Strategies for Small Business Success www.sba.gov/advo/research/rs220tot.pdf Take all statistics with a grain of salt! Why are stats important? Helps you know that your target audience is online. So why did Medicare.gov not realize that ¾’s of older adults are not online?
Small businesses successfully use the Internet in many ways to enhance, or even start, their business. Build an existing business Add value to product or service Reach distant markets Offer innovative products and services Build credibility Build brand recognition Cut operating costs Build returning customer base Leverage brick business with clicks Start a business Let’s look at some examples.
One reason businesses use the internet is to Reach Distant Markets. Smaller companies have the most to gain from using the web as a marketing medium. The web is far cheaper than the cost of traditional advertising to reach some audiences. Sawbill Canoe Outfitters is in the Boundary Waters Canoe area. 80% of business is conducted over the Internet in a place so remote they can’t even buy a newspaper. Owner Bill Hansen says he’s virtually eliminated other forms of advertising and promotion as a result of having a web site. They were “blogging” before the term was invented. Their website has had a popular daily log online since 1997. “ Clearly the Internet, as it has for larger businesses, has become one of the prime marketing tools for small businesses. 69% of small businesses feel Web sites are essential to their marketing plans. -eMarketer.com May 24, 2004
Leverage brick business with clicks One anchor of Marquette's MI revival is the Getz Department Store, a family-owned business that has been on Front Street since the late 19th century and now earns roughly half its sales revenue by selling Carhartt and North Face clothing on the Internet (getzs.com). The company's Web site has also helped to establish Getz's, as it is also known, as one of the city's tourist destinations, along with the county courthouse a few blocks west, where scenes from the 1959 Jimmy Stewart film &quot;Anatomy of a Murder&quot; were shot. Source: NY Times November 16, 2005 Small-Town Shops Bulk Up on the Web By KEITH SCHNEIDER
Build Returning Customer Base Sheila owns the Coffee Landing in International Falls, MN. She uses the internet to market locally. She sells her roasted beans online and emails customers with special offers to bring them into her shop.
Offer Innovative Products Casketfurniture.com gains visibility through the Internet, which would be difficult to achieve any other way. The firm offers “display cabinets, coffee tables, even entertainment centers that can be promptly converted in coffins, usually by just removing the shelves”. The British Columbia company claims a potential market of 2.6 million people who die each year in North America! Source: E-Biz: Strategies for Small Business Success from the SBA Oct 2002. (www.sba.gov/advo/research/rs220tot.pdf)
Offer Innovative Service The concept behind a successful online business doesn't have to be complex. It can be as simple as providing a single product or service to a niche market. BlackSocks.com sells men's black socks on a subscription plan. The marketing concept behind the Sockscription™ is a simple one. There is a need for &quot;good sock management.&quot; This sounds pretty silly but everyone has unmatched socks--an obvious sign of poor sock management. Shopping for black socks is boring but people need new socks on a regular basis. The subscription can be for a little as 3 pairs of Italian made cotton socks delivered 3 times a year. Sockscription™ is a clever idea and customers are made to feel that they are just as clever for having one. Subscription services like this are perfect revenue generators because 70 percent of people never cancel a standing order. www.blacksocks.com Switzerland, Britain, US.
Add value to a product or service MNHouses.com is a husband and wife realty team in St Paul MN. When they list a house for sale on their website, they include many photos of the inside of the house. The web visitor and potential customer get a virtual tour through the front door, through every room in the house, the back yard and the view from the house to the street. It saves the potential customers and the realtor time.
Cut Operating Costs: Sumerset Custom Houseboats, www.sumerset.com , is a local boat building business in Sumerset, Kentucky. The company of 200 employees began using the Internet to dramatize its message “We’re not really selling boats—we’re selling a lifestyle.” Construction photos posted on the Web show owners every stage of their boat in progress. They also stimulate “keeping up with the Jones’” upgrades from other customers. A big benefit has been the cost savings that have resulted from customers being able to catch production errors before they become serious. Source: E-Biz: Strategies for Small Business Success from the SBA Oct 2002. (www.sba.gov/advo/research/rs220tot.pdf)
The Beeswax Candle Company in Lynchburg, VA is now mainstreet business in the center of town. &quot;The Internet has taken a small family-owned candle business and allowed us to compete on a national level while contributing to the redevelopment of our downtown area in central Virginia,&quot; said Kathy Shaw, the founder. They use a DSL broadband connection. They started online with dial-up 3 years ago. “There is no way we could still be on dial-up. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s worth every penny. We started the business in our kitchen and we understand the need to watch the bottom line. You need to be professional even on a shoe-string budget. Literally, when a customer calls with a question, you need to be able to be on the same page as your customer.” Source: NY Times November 16, 2005 Small-Town Shops Bulk Up on the Web By KEITH SCHNEIDER and Phone interview with owner Kathy Shaw about broadband use on 1/30/06 by Rae Montgomery, UM Extension.
First impressions make or break a website. What you see ‘above the fold’ like on a newspaper stand, gives you the first impression. Let’s get a few first impressions.
Ask the audience what they think about the first impression. http://www.artists-online.net/flynnclaystudio/index.html
UNDER CONSTRUCTION http://www.braveheartleather.com/
WHAT IS THEIR BUSINESS? LARGE GRAPHIC THAT CAN’T BE READ BY SEARCH ENGINES. “ for five years now, we have been using our original photographs to create one-of-a-kind designs that we hand-print onto organic and found fabrics or (more recently) develop into wallpaper.” http://www.crazycoconut.net/#
LEFT NAVIGATION IS HARD TO READ IRRELEVANT CONTENT – US SOCIAL SECURITY AND NATIONAL DEBT. US AND WORLD POPULATION. Greets you with the time and good afternoon. http://www.morlanwoodgifts.com/
Group Hands on: Evaluating Websites Activity: 10 minutes evaluating, 10 minutes discussing. Break participants into groups of 3-5. Let each group choose a different website to evaluate. You may not use all the sites, or you may want to replace sites with ones you choose. Follow with a large group discussion. 2 minutes or less per group. Groups may demo their site for the class, or the instructor can demo what the group is talking about. Summary: It’s always easier to critique someone else’s website than your own. Discussion after activity Ben and Jerrys: Fun. Try looking at the UK and other international sites. They’re all different. Chipolte.com: Requires flash (a lesson in accessibility if you don’t have it installed) Turn the speakers on if you have them. Somewhat entertaining. Navigation is unique. They don’t sell anything. Video Sonic Labs: Busy. Garrish. Pacific Ease: Not ready for business.
Be informative — content, content and content High-quality content is the most important factor in attracting people back to a web site. You need to update your site often. A page with lots of interesting information is a page worth reading, bookmarking and going back to. Think carefully about what people want to know and what your audience is most interested in. Then provide them with detailed, authoritative information. Be fast. If your site takes too long to download, the user will give up and go to quicker, easier sites Easy to navigate. Your pages are a path and the links you provide are the steps that guide people through your site. It is important to make these links logical and easily understood. Be tidy. Clean and well-organized sites are easy to move, easy to fix and easy to maintain. Check for spelling errors. Be accessible. When you are setting up your web site it is important to be accessible on all screens, hardware, operating systems and browsers. This means you will reach as many people as possible. If your site is only accessible to those with the very latest software, then you will deny many users access to your site. Source (in part): Australia Council for the Arts www.fuel4arts.com
A website should look good, be easy to navigate, and avoid irritating visitors. Here's a list of design elements that drive many visitors nuts: Animated graphics : Waving flags, bouncing letters, rainbow lines Cursor tails : Leave the user's cursor alone. Scrolling marquees : If the information is important enough to show on the page, put it in a static location so it can be read and printed. Tiny print : The population is aging and bigger print is in! Dark backgrounds : Make reading difficult and printing impossible. Distracting backgrounds : The page content is more important than the decoration behind it. Flash or splash pages : Users come to websites to find information, they don't want to wait for flash presentations or splash pages to load. Pop-ups, pop-unders, and interstitials : Avoid these if possible. And we have to make sure that our webpages load quickly. Lots of people, especially in rural areas, only have a dial-up connection to the Internet.
After we’ve explored the home page of websites, we look deeper into the site to find content and features we’re looking for. This could include things like interaction, transaction capability, or stickiness. What is stickiness? Something that makes you want to stay at the site or bookmark the site and return to it.
3-5 minutes for this slide. Click on the graphic to go to http://www.oktoberfest.de/en/13/ Click on “Milk Your Cows “and then the start button (spiel starten) This is a game where you try to milk the cows. The game has nothing to do with the website it is on, which is an Octoberfest festival site. The cows are armed with sticks and they beat you. If you don’t milk a cow in time, it dies. Click sound off for a while and let the cows die. Why offer entertainment on a site? People remember the site and will come back, or will tell someone else.
Help visitors find your physical location. Add a map to your website with MapQuest or Yahoo or Google.
“ HOW TO” value added information is popular http://www.waterstonesink.com/htm/throwing.htm
High quality photos. Use thumbnails (small version of a photo) on the pages so they will load quickly and let users click on photos to enlarge them. http://www.billatkinson.com/GenerateCatalog.pl?page=0&filter=_Rocks
Visitors want a secure shopping site. This one is NOT Secure online shopping. Wants credit card. No https. http://www.billatkinson.com/GenerateCustomerForm.pl?page=0&filter=_newest&number=2903
There are two ways to know you are using a website with SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption capabilities: 1. A closed lock symbol appears in the lower right corner of your browser. 2. The web address begins with ‘ https:// ’ instead of ‘ http:// ’ The ‘ s ’ in the ‘ https ’ address stands for ‘secure.’ Make sure to check your browser for the ‘ https:// ’ and for the closed lock symbol every time before you send any private information over the Internet to make sure your information is secured. Source: http://www.credit-cards-comparison-charts.com/credit_cards_internet_security.html
3-5 minutes for this slide. Click on the graphic to go to the website www.willitblend.com. Click on the play arrow. This is a site for high-end (expensive) blenders. The videos demonstrate that the blender is indestructible.
Demonstrate the netmechanic site – HTML toolbox. You can use www.access-ecom.info to test if you want to. Test for usability of layout and design, content, browser compatibility, server performance. Validate all of the pages with an HTML checker. Try your pages with different computers and browsers. Ask volunteers to visit your site while you observe their actions and reactions. Use website inspection tools to check your site. To use NetMechanic: http://www.netmechanic.com/toolbox/html-code.htm Scroll down to: HTML Toolbox Free Sample Enter your URL Click Test Now ( you don’t need to enter an email address to test 1 page.) An alternate site is a link checker: http://validator.w3.org/checklink
Accessibility is a legal requirement for federal government websites. It is also a &quot;best practice&quot; for any website. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires Federal agencies to purchase electronic and information technology that is accessible to employees with disabilities. If the agency provides information to the public via a website, that information must be accessible by persons with disabilities. Although accessibility initiatives are aimed at serving people with disabilities, the results can be enjoyed by all users. A lot of the accessibility guidelines are based on common sense. Provide text equivalents for all non-text items: images, audio, video. Provide clear navigation mechanisms and support keyboard-only navigation. Don't use color as the only way to convey important information. Avoid anything that causes severe screen flicker. Provide a text only page when necessary.
Demo or just discuss. Test a website for accessibility with WebAim www.webaim.org/resources.
Searching for information is the most popular online activity. Small businesses can search the web for information about competitors, new product and marketing ideas, and current news.
Hands-on. 10 minutes. Have participants browse one or more directories for a topic they are interested in. There are times when people just can’t think of search words. Browsing directories can be helpful Google, Dmoz and Yahoo are popular. Allmyfaves.com is a visual directory.
Finding information on the internet is easy, but finding what you’re looking for can sometimes be a challenge. All search engines offer a clickable Help area that offers tips on searching. Some tips that are especially helpful: Choose keywords carefully. WIDGET PARTS are the words we have chosen for this example. Google will search for websites that contain the words WIDGET and PARTS, but the words may not be together on the website. Put quotes around a phrase. In this example Google will find only sites that have “WIDGET PARTS” as a phrase. Add keywords to narrow the search. In this example we added GREEN to limit the search to sites that listed GREEN WIDGET PARTS. Exclude words. The minus sign (meaning NOT) in front of a word can be used to exclude sites with that word. For example, NOT CHINA By narrowing the search, we have fewer results to look at. But that can be better than looking at too many results!
There is much more to Google than the Search box. Google is always experimenting with new options and they regularly change what appears on the first page. Demonstrate the features of the Google website: -Web, Images, Maps, News, Shopping, and More, and Even More. Try clicking on Images first and then typing in search terms. Scanning images may be more useful to you than reading the web page descriptions
10 minutes hands-on.
Your business involves purchasing products or services from other businesses. Whether it is buying raw materials or doing business with your bank, you may discover they offer better prices or provide better services for dealing with them online. If e-business is about anything, it's about saving money online. One of the quickest ways to do this is to find alternative suppliers or get better services and prices from current ones.
Visit their websites. Try to figure out what they are trying to do online. What do you like or dislike about their websites? What can your company do better--both on and off-line? When you finish looking at your competition, follow the same process to find out what is being said about your business on the Net. You may be surprised by what you learn!
Hands-on. 5 minutes. Have participants find at least one competitor or supplier for their business on the internet. Or play with the Wayback Machine.
Having the right office tools is important for productivity and staying ahead of your competition. OpenOffice.org is an open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. Free. Zoho offers a number of productivity, collaboration and business apps. Free trials. Google Apps gives everyone at your organization a custom email address, tools for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, a shared calendaring system. Free or low-cost.
Auction Sites Niche malls or coops are communities of interest sites by geography, topic, etc. Online Storefronts Blogs (for some businesses) Traditional Dot Com Website Very low cost ways to have a web presence include online auctions (like e-bay), niche malls or coops. Online storefronts are easy to set up and can be affordable. Bottom line: lots of options for using the internet to build business – and it could be easier and cheaper than you think!
Online auctions are very popular. You can find just about everything on them. eBay is the most popular site for consumers who want to buy or sell their ‘slightly used’ goods. It’s the world’s largest garage sale. But it’s also a place for businesses to sell their goods. These golf clubs are offered by auction by a company called “Rock Bottom Golf” that also has an eBay store. Auctions sometimes draw more attention than stores and are a good way to drive traffic to your website. Question for audience: Who has bought something on eBay? Sold something? Want to tell us about it?
How much does it cost to sell an individual item on eBay? That depends. You can list an item for as little as 10 cents. eBay will keep at least 8.75% of the final cost it sells for. Optional features such as setting a minimum price you’ll accept (called reserve price), adding additional pictures, having your listing highlighted or offering an opportunity for people to bypass the auction and “buy it now” are additional costs. The complete list of fees is at: http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/fees.html
PayPal is a very popular way for individuals and businesses to accept payments. PayPal’s commission is $0.30 + 2.9% of the total sales amount.
Here is an example of an item that is listed on eBay for a starting price of .01 and sold for $20.00. Depending on the features chosen for the eBay listing, the total eBay fees start at a couple of dollars and can run much higher. Accepting PayPal payment adds 2.9% of the final price plus 30 cents. Suddenly what looks like a $20 profit is much less. Many sellers try to recover their eBay selling fees by increasing the amount they will charge to ship items. Buyer beware!
eBay’s Seller Central is a good starting point for learning how to sell on eBay. See eBay’s Merchant eCommerce Solutions for using how your business can sell on eBay. eBay offers research tools for a fee.
Hands on. 10 minutes.
Niche malls or coops are a way to for groups of sellers to market their products without having their own individual website . Buyers like niche malls because one website directs them to many options. A niche mall can be regional or topical community of interest. LocalHarvest.org is an example of a niche mall; maintaining a nationwide directory of small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources. Their online store helps small farms develop markets for some of their products beyond their local area.
Hands-on. 10 minutes. Explore some geographical or topical niche malls. Etsy.com is a mall to buy or sell all things handmade.
An Online Storefront lets you have a storefront in someone else’s store. Yahoo!, Amazon and eBay, all have stores. YAHOO! STORES Yahoo Stores! Is probably the most popular of the online stores. You can establish a web presence and accept transactions online. Even larger businesses take advantage of Yahoo’s e-commerce capability: For example, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream uses a Yahoo shop for the part of their website that sells online. Ben and Jerry’s has a website, and a nice one at that. They choose to use a Yahoo store for the ecommerce transaction part of their site only – the part that sells the ice cream and takes the money. They don’t have to deal with having to have their own secure server that way. Saves a lot of time, money and headaches. Most small businesses should look at outsourcing the transaction portion.
Organic Sleep Products uses a Yahoo Online Store. Cost for a Yahoo Store: $ 39.95 per month for hosting plus 1.5% transaction fee. $50 one-time setup fee. You can accept payment with PayPal or Yahoo offers a merchant account - Paymentech - monthly service fee of $22.95. The discount percentage for MasterCard/Visa is 2.69% plus a $0.20 transaction fee. http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/merchant ebay Stores start at $15.95/month for a Basic store. $49.95/month for a Featured store that gets rotated through the home page. Plus you for for insertion fees are and sellers are charged a Final Value fee of the sales price. These extra fees can really add up. http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/storefees.html
NetFirms.com’s &quot;Advantage&quot; plan, costs $10/month and includes domain names, a Web page design kit, and a 40-page step-by-step reference guide explaining how to set up the site. Adding the eCommerce shopping option adds $15/month. Jeannine Ranni upgraded to Netfirms' CommercePro after paying a Web designer to host and run her site, embellishedbean.com, which sells gourmet coffee beans. The stay-at-home mom says the site, which was designed using Netfirms' templates, makes it easy for her to fill daily orders. &quot;I have a control panel that I log onto daily that gives me all my Web stats, my visitors, and any orders. And once I click on the pending orders, it gives me an option to make labels and invoices,&quot; she says. &quot;It links with the postal service, or whoever you want, to ship, and then it notifies the customer that the order has been shipped.&quot; -http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/sep2006/sb20060905_359906.htm
Homestead.com is another online store option. E-commerce enabled websites start at $25/month.
Hands on. 5 minutes.
Blog -Short for We b log , a blog is a Web page that serves as a publicly-accessible personal journal for an individual. Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author. Some types of blogs: Personal journals or online diaries Business blogs Group blogs Photo or mobile blogs Lots of people blog. There are estimates that there 1.5 million active bloggers. Blogging is so easy to do that folks just want to try it. An popular artist blog: http://www.dannygregory.com/weblog
Businesses are very varied. Each has its own needs and way of serving customers. How each could make use of a blog can be very individual. In many cases, it is the intimate person-to-person nature of a blog that helps establish and maintain a relationship with an existing or potential customer. For many small businesses a personal relationship is their main difference from a &quot;faceless&quot; large organization. Examples: Blogs can be a low-cost alternative to creating a website. For example, an artist could use a blog as their portfolio. Consultants are already very common users of blogs. A blog is a way of showing your expertise and establishing yourself as a trustworthy authority without doing the travel. Almost all Bed and breakfasts need to have a web site. They often depend upon repeat business. Some send out newsletters to try to keep old contacts alive. A blog can be very effective, especially given the attachment some people have to the areas where they vacation. The blog could be about the lake nearby (&quot;The ice just melted enough for the water to show through -- here's a picture“) peppered with news of the B&B. People are known to regularly check a site that does as little as post the daily weather or pictures of lakes or ski areas. Of course, this is not just for B&B's. It also applies to guides, fishing charters, rafting companies , etc. Another related area is a blog by a neighborhood merchant or restaurant owner whose topic is just about the neighborhood -- like a very local paper. Many specialty retail stores rely on regular customers coming in to talk and see what's new in the field as well as in the store. Customers just want to get a &quot;fix&quot; of their area of interest from a face they know. While they don't usually buy anything during these visits, the visits are crucial to loyalty that leads to major purchases. The blog can serve a similar purpose. Support is another area that can be aided with a blog. Frequently asked questions and tips can covered (&quot;At this time of year everybody seems to have problems with their gutters...&quot;). ------------------------------ - Above is from http://danbricklin.com/log/businessblogging.htm
Google has a blog search: blogsearch.google.com www.blogarama.com is a categorized directory of blogs. Want to create your own blog? www.blogger.com is free.
Hands-on. 10 minutes. Sawbill.com started ‘blogging’ in 1997, before the term was invented. Their online newsletter is an important part of their outfitting business. Stonyfield Farms have several blogs. Scenic Nursery offers gardening tips in their blog.
Traditional dot com websites are often used by businesses who want to have a site designed that reflects their business better than online stores or templates.
Your business is probably not web design. You probably want to spend your time on your business, not your website. What are some things to look for in a web site developer? Why hire a developer when your 12-year old nephew knows how to make web pages? How can you tell if they are doing a good job? What should you pay? Interview customers : Was the site done on time? Was it consistent with current branding? Any hidden costs? Surprises? Was it easy to communicate? Evaluate web sites: Use a web site inspector for a general idea of workmanship. Get an outside opinion from a professional . Use what you learn from this class! Compare services : For example, some web site developers include registering your site with the search engines. If the developer you are considering does not know what that means, run, run like hell in the other direction! Site Maintenance: How will the site be updated? Will they train you to do this or will they charge you? Or do they put the site up and leave you stranded?
Costs to develop a basic website are all across the board. A typical basic website might cost $3000 to create. Price is a very poor indicator of quality. Be sure to talk to customers. Look for a developer who has created sites for businesses like yours. Costs for websites that require secure transactions might have higher web hosting fees and additional fees. Don’t forget about ongoing costs. Few designers will list their costs on their website. An exception is www.webshackdesign.com. These are their prices.
A merchant account is necessary if you are going to accept credit card transactions. You can get a merchant account through your bank or through some web hosting services. You will pay a monthly fee for the account ($15-50) plus a per transaction fee (.15 - .30) and a percent of the transaction amount (2-5%). Some web hosts also charge a small online fee for each transaction (.05) Some small businesses are choosing to use PayPal’s merchant account (www.paypal.com) as an alternative to getting their own merchant account. PayPal does not charge a monthly fee. Costs to the business are 2.9% of the transaction plus 30 cents. When you’re researching the cost doing business online, be sure to include transaction fees.
Domain names are cheap and easy to obtain, and there are many advantages to ownership: Shows you are serious about conducting business on the Internet. Promotes your brand, product, trademark or company name. Search engines are more likely to index your pages. You may want a domain name even if you are using a template-based web host or a virtual storefront. Many hosts will give you the option of using your own web address instead of theirs if you have one. How much does a domain name cost? Depends on who you buy it through. Usually less than $20/year. Use sites like betterwhois.com to see if a name is available. What can you do if name is taken? (1) Register a variation, (2) buy it outright, or (3) wait for the current registration to expire. www.Betterwhois.com will show you who owns the name. The complete info doesn’t always automatically appear. Near the bottom of the screen of the results of typing a web address in, look for: To view complete domain information for this domain, please click here . This will give you complete results. Sometimes you are asked to type in a number that appears on the screen) You can work through your ISP or web hosting service to register a domain or you can register your own domain name, but you may want to make sure you are dealing with an accredited registrar. www.icann.org, (The Internet Corporation or Assigned Names and Numbers) is responsible for accrediting domain name registrars in the United States.
Hands-on. 5 minutes. Have participants choose available domain names, or find out who owns a particular one. The most common domain name extensions that businesses can register are: .com .org .net .biz and .info are newer and can be purchased. The only downside is many people still expect to see a .com.
If you’ve decided to get your own dot com website, you will have to have a web host for it. You can purchase web hosting locally or globally. Ask others what host they use. There are lots of lists of web host reviews on the web, but know that they may be promoting their own web host! Beware of hosting companies that charge by the page or where the main business is selling domains.
This section is about how to get visitors to your website.
While search engines are a very important method to be found on the internet, viral marketing (linking from another site, word of mouth and online advertising are also very important. Source: June 2000 Forrester Research Inc.
The question we hear most often is “how do I get to be listed number one by the search engines?” Realistically, that’s difficult. But there are a few things you can do to help search engines find your site.
Spiders are regularly crawling around visiting websites and will probably, eventually, visit yours. Registering with a search engine may dispatch a spider to your site sooner. Google and MSN state you don’t have to register your site with them, but you can if you want to. All offer free URL submission. There can be a lag time between a spider visiting a site and the information being added to the index. Search Engine Watch www.searchenginewatch.com has in-depth information on how search engines work.
The TITLE tag is the first information a search engine looks at. Then search engines read the first 25 lines or so of a web page. Place words that are key to your business near the top of your business’s home page. The search engine will be looking to see if the words in the TITLE tag relate to the words on the web page. Search engines can’t read graphic images; refrain from using one big graphic as a home page and use “alt text” tags for all images. Some look at link popularity and some look at metatags. Spamming is using repeated keywords in meta tags, using words in the title tag that doesn’t match the content of the web page, using words that are invisible to the viewer but not the search engine, such as placing white text on a white background.
Demonstrate how to see the source code of a web page (View, Source) of Lark Toys www.larktoys.com The major search engines give you a chance to control how your Web site is indexed through the use of TITLE and META Tags. TITLE and META tags are placed at the beginning of a Web page document within the <HEAD> tags. The TITLE tag is the most important. Every website should have one. When placed in the html code, it appears in: the text that appears in the browser banner at the very top of a Web page (DEMONSTRATE) search engine results the browser’s bookmarks or favorites the browser history “ no title” or “home page” are not good titles. Title tag must fit across the top of the browser. META tags describe the content of your site and used to be a favorite tool to be found by search engines. Most search engines no longer look at the meta tags. Title tags are still extremely important however.
Lark Toys (Kellogg MN) was contacted by Disney Fall of 1999 to create wood toys for their Spring 2000 movie, “Geppetto”. Disney found Lark Toys by searching for “wood toys”. The phrase “wood toys” is found in the Title tag for Lark Toy’s website.
&quot;The best way to ensure Google finds your site is for your page to be linked from lots of pages on other sites. Google's robots jump from page to page on the Web via hyperlinks, so the more sites that link to you, the more likely it is that we'll find you quickly.&quot; Traditional search engines rely heavily on how often a word appears on a web page. Google uses PageRank™ to examine the entire link structure of the web and determine which pages are most important. It then conducts hypertext-matching analysis to determine which pages are relevant to the specific search being conducted. By combining overall importance and query-specific relevance, Google is able to put the most relevant and reliable results first. But the links have to be from sites that are credible and relevant to your site. You can’t trick Google. Don’t even try. Ask websites that are relevant to your to include a link to your site. Not only will visitors find their way to your site from other sites, but Google will find yours easier. Google's search engine also analyzes page content. So again, relevant content is very important.
Hands-on 5-10 minutes. Looking at the most popular sites by category can help you identify online competitors. Note – after you generate the report at www.MarketLeap.com, try changing the benchmark to different categories. It’s interesting to see what the most popular websites are in each category.
Hands-on 5-10 minutes.
Buy traffic if you can afford it. “Being listed in search indexes is an important foundation, but it doesn't necessarily get your site to the top or even onto the first page of search results.
In Google, the links on the right are paid listings. These are Google AdWords, generically know as ‘pay-per-click’. To get immediate results, you can purchase premium listings from Overture® or Google®. These services let you select specific search terms, or keywords, and then display your web address (with a description that you've written) when somebody searches on that term. If you have something to sell, this highly-targeted form of lead-generation advertising can be extremely profitable. Businesses listed under the sponsored links pay each time someone clicks on the link. Starting price is 5 cents per click. A popular word like ‘chocolate’ costs 1.40 per click. Some keywords are still affordable. If you have a niche market, like birch bark baskets, AdWords could be an affordable promotion strategy for your business.
Pay Per Click “ In Manitowoc WI, small businesses are tapping into the online sales world primarily through pay-per-click advertising offered by Google's Adwords and Yahoo's Overture. Both companies require e-commerce retailers to bid on keywords and phrases to drive customers to Web sites. Mr. Brunner of the Fitness Store in Manitowoc said he spent $6,000 a month on Google and $2,000 a month on Yahoo. But he also gained $240,000 in revenue in August (2005). &quot;I expect to do more than that in November and December,&quot; he said. Source: NY Times November 16, 2005 Small-Town Shops Bulk Up on the Web By KEITH SCHNEIDER
Google Adwords. You choose the keywords you want to purchase and decide how much you are willing to spend per day. When your daily budget is reached, your ad will no longer appear near the top. Setting your daily budget is important. If your budget is $2/day, once people have clicked on your link enough times to reach $2, your link will no longer appear in the sponsored sites for the rest of the day.
You can also target specific geographic locations with Google Adwords. For example, when you type the work ‘pottery’ from a computer in St Paul Minnesota, the top PAID search result is for Bungalow Pottery, located in St Paul, MN. If you are in Mississippi and type ‘pottery’, you won’t see this listing. Google can use your computer’s IP address to determine when you are in Minnesota or traveling elsewhere. The Bungalow Pottery people have chosen to purchase the word ‘pottery’, but only if the visitor is near their location. This saves on their daily budget. Smart on their part.
If you have product for sale, explore how to be listed on comparison shopping sites. Each site will have Information for Merchants or Join Our Merchant Program, usually at the bottom of the home page. Some are free listings; some are pay per click.
Get listed in the ‘big’ directories – Google, Dmoz, Yahoo. Google and Dmoz are free. Yahoo charges $300/year. Get listed in regional directories. Get list in a directory of sites with similar content to yours. Make sure your business can be found on Google maps.
“Proactive, permission-based e-mail marketing programs are the foundation of successful digital marketing. One of the best ways to ensure success is to build a relationship with existing customers and prospects. Get permission! This is the first step in a long-term relationship. To obtain permission, offer something of value, such as a white paper, survey, financial analysis, or weekly tip to help readers become better acquainted with your product or service.” -http://www.clickz.com/experts/em_mkt/enl_strat/article.php/3345331 Once you have a visitor’s permission to send them email, you have a powerful marketing strategy! Think about it, when you get an email from a company you’re interested in, you’re likely to immediately visit their website. Especially if you’ve been offered a coupon or discount of some sort in the email. This is probably the best way to bring visitors to your site.
M&M’s offers several different newsletters about promotions, recipes and collectibles. Free newsletter templates can be found at SparkList www.sparklist.com/services/htmltemplates.html
Create your own e-card and let people send it to each other. This is an example from the Fremont Oktoberfest website (http://www.fremontoktoberfest.com/) of an electronic postcard that website visitors can mail to friends. Bravenet.com has many free tools including e-cards, mailing lists and e-mail forms.
Viral marketing is a fancy term for word of mouth advertising. It’s “any advertising that propagates itself the way viruses do.&quot; 'Word of Mouth' is still one of the most effective marketing techniques, online or offline. It’s the talk around the water cooler. Friends and relatives can be helpful in telling people about your website. “My son just started his website. You should see it. It’s at www…”. People will visit the site just because they are curious about what their friend has told them. Maybe they are not a potential customer, but maybe they know someone who is. Their line goes something like “ My friend’s son has this website that you might be interested in…” Customers Nothing is more valuable than a satisfied customer telling someone about their experience. Online or offline. Overstock.com sends a card along with every order from the CEO Patrick Byrne. The card says “Help Me Help You! Our prices are low because we don’t spend huge amounts on marketing. We pass the savings to you. Help me out: please try to tell 3-6 friends about your experience at Overstock.” Website visitors Make it easy for website visitors to let others know about your site, even if they are not purchasing something. Some ideas: -Put &quot;send this to a friend' buttons on your content pages -Let visitors create online wish lists from your product catalogs and alert their friends and family -Make your own or co-brand free online greeting cards -Offer free screensavers, music clips, or printable checklists related to your website or products -Put coupons on your website or in your newsletter and encourage people to share them with others -Add promotional items in every package you send a customer including gift packs And of course, place your web address on all your business materials and don’t forget about using radio and newspapers to promote your site.
Kangaroo Korner is a home-based business that makes baby slings. They sold 4000 baby slings in 2004. Their marketing plan depends on word of mouth.According to Tanya Westerman, creator and owner, 59% of their customers are referred by friends or saw a sling in use. Slings come with business cards that customers can pass on to others.
CafePress lets individuals, businesses, nonprofits sell goods with their logo printed on them, without having to hold the inventory or handle the sale. You just put a link on your website to your goods at CafePress. CafePress handles the production, transaction and shipping. They charge you a minimum price for the item; you charge your customers anything over the minimum price. CafePress sends you the profits. Mugs, t-shirts, lunch boxes, mouse pads.
Hands on. 10 minutes.
&quot;RSS&quot; stands for Really Simple Syndication. Using this standard, Web publishers provide updates, such as the latest news headlines or weblog postings. Look for the orange RSS symbol on your favorite blogs or news pages. If you have a business blog, consider offering an RSS feed. Google owns the free feedburner.com tool. -http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/aboutrss
Having trouble keeping up with all those blogs you want to read? RSS content can be read using software called a &quot;feed reader&quot; or an &quot;aggregator.&quot; The user subscribes to a feed by entering the feed's link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader checks the user's subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds. NewsGator, Bloglines, My Yahoo! iGoogle Personalized Home are popular free online services to let you aggregate your favorite RSS feeds. To use iGoogle, you have to sign up for a free Gmail account first. After that you can go to the Google home page, click on iGoogle in the upper right corner and sign in. Here’s an example of entrepreneur feeds placed in iGoogle. They are ‘in your face’ on your Google page and you’re likely to click on them.
Hands on. 10 minutes. An example of an aggregator is iGoogle. You have to sign up for a free Gmail account first. After that you can go to the Google home page, click on iGoogle in the upper right corner and sign in. An example has been set up for this workshop. Feel free to play with the iGoogle page. Content can be added from Google’s list or you enter enter the URL of any RSS feed you know of (look for the orange RSS symbol on blogs and news sources).
A Podcast is: An audio file you create in .mp3 format... Which contains your own radio show or any audio you wish others to have... That you upload along with an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) file to a server (your website for instance)... That your intended listeners download using one of several programs that have been created to retrieve your audio file automatically... So they can listen to it at their convenience on their own iPod or .mp3 player. “ More than 22 million American adults own iPods or MP3 players and 29% of them have downloaded podcasts from the Web so that they could listen to audio files at a time of their choosing. That amounts to more than 6 million adults who have tried this new feature that allows internet “broadcasts” to be downloaded onto their portable listening device.” Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/154/report_display.asp 4/3/2005
You’ll need speakers for this.
Everything you need to get started Podcasting is available for $5/month at AudioBlog.com, an audio, video, and podcast publishing service. For the basic $5 service you'll get 5 gb of bandwidth per month. Other, unmetered plans are available. Create your own using your computer and microphone and free software tools: Blogger, Audacity, Internet Archive, CC Publisher, Feedburner. Instructions: digitalpodcast.com
Social networks are all about interaction. Let’s look at a short 2-minute video to help us understand. (Click on the video to start the YouTube video. Make sure speakers are on. Click lower right button to make full screen. http://youtube.com/watch?v=6a_KF7TYKVc or http://www.commoncraft.com/video-social-networking.
MySpace is probably the most popular social network site, with Facebook coming in second. MySpace is very popular with musicians, providing them an outlet to promote their music. Professionals are using LinkedIn to reconnecting with former friends and colleagues, and as a tool for job searching and talent recruiting. In the past five years, such sites have rocketed from a niche activity into a phenomenon that engages tens of millions of internet users.
Can’t stand all the young faces on MySpace? Eons.com is a social networking website for Americans aged 50-plus. Eons.com has interactive games to build brain strength, news on entertainment and hobbies for older people, a personalized longevity calculator and tips to live longer.
The bottom line is, “are you getting customers”. You can use information from visitors to your website to refine, or even re-direct your marketing strategies.
Log analysis is a valuable tool for finding out who is visiting your site. It tells you how often your site was visited, a bit about who the visitors are and how they got to your site. It tells you what keywords people used to find your site. Every time you visit a website, your computer address (IP address) is sent to a log file on the web host computer. Your web host should provide either the raw data or analyzed data from the log file. Counters can be deceiving because they count the page visit AND all graphic elements on the page. Counters don’t tell you who is visiting. A low number could be embarrassing. Software used to analyze data: StatCounter.com and SiteMeter.com are free online services.
This is a map of recent visitor activity to www.access-ecom.info. It’s surprising to see how far the Internet reaches!
A business plan is a roadmap for putting your business online. Create your own to help you think through your goals and how you are going to accomplish them. Goals are the starting point. What are you trying to do with the Internet? Open a branch office of a brick and mortar business? Use the Internet for all your business sales and marketing? Are you trying to use the Internet as a cost saving measure for your business? Your goals shape the rest of your business plan. Audience. The Internet can help businesses think about audiences differently. Your audience may be around the world. Consider the demographics of who uses the Internet and how that matches your audiences. The Internet can be helpful for target very specific audiences. Competition. Many businesses like to think they don’t have competition. Getting over this and acknowledging your competition is the best way to do a better job than they do. Find them and evaluate them. Figure out what you can do better, or differently. Web Presence . Do you need a website or are there other ways you can have a web presence? If you want a website, what kind? Website Promotion. How are you going to promote your website? Budget. Start totaling all your business costs associated with the Internet part of your business. Look at startup costs as well as ongoing costs for domain names, a web presence and promotion. Once you know the costs of the Internet part of your business, you can put that in your expense category along with cost of goods, etc. for your entire business plan. Evaluation. How will you know you are meeting your goals? Use the Internet Business Plan Checklist handout to help you.
Demonstrate the Main Street Outdoor Shop at www.accesse.info/skeeter
Group Workshop Activity: About 1 hour. Divide the participants into 4 groups to work on Goals & Audience, Competition, Website Development, and Promotion. At the end each group presents their piece of the plan to the rest of the class. Discuss the overall impact of the plan on Budget and Evaluation. Joe wants to sell his product, called skeeter suckers, over the Internet. His product can be seen at www.accesse.info/skeeter Joe says: “ I want to use the Internet to market skeeter suckers to all those Minnesotans who are tired of swatting at mosquitoes. I want to make money and save money. My product is unique, so I don’t have any competitors. I already have a website that someone built for me. I just have to figure out some of the details like ordering and shipping. I’ve already registered my domain name, www.skeetersucker.com and I’m putting the address on everything I can think of. The domain name cost me $15 and my ISP is charging me $50 a month. That should be about it for costs.” Let’s help Joe get his internet business plan in shape. In each section below, write several ideas for Joe to consider as he develops his plan. Use the curriculum, the internet business plan checklists, the internet, or your own ideas to help you think about it. Goals: Joe wants to use the internet to market skeeter suckers. Does Joe really need a website? What do you think? What kind of a website does Joe really want? List some functions of a website that Joe might want to consider. Joe also wants to save money, but doesn’t have a plan. Has he thought about his suppliers? Audience: Is Joe limiting his sales to retail consumers, or is he including wholesale customers such as resort owners who will market his product to their customers? What states or countries have mosquitoes? Give Joe some ideas for thinking about who his potential customers are. Competition: Joe only thinks he doesn’t have any competitors. Ever heard of a fly swatter? List some ways to help Joe identify his competitors. Website Development: What are the steps to develop a website? Which parts might Joe do himself? Who does he need to hire? Promotion: OK, so Joe put his website address on a t-shirt. What else should he do? Budget: Are Joe’s estimated expenditures realistic? Are his only expenses $15 for a domain name and $50 monthly web hosting fee? Evaluation: How will Joe know if his efforts are paying off? What are his evaluation criteria?
PayPal lets you accept credit cards, bank transfers, debit cards from customers on your website or auction
No monthly, startup, or cancellation fees
PayPal’s commission is 2.9% + $0.30.
eBay Pricing Example + .10 Insertion fee + .30 For 3 pictures + 1.00 Bold listing + 1.75 eBay Final Value fee (8.75 % of sell price) =$3.15 Total eBay fees + .88 PayPal fees (2.9% of sell price) = $4.03 Total An example of an item with a starting price of $.01 and selling price of $20.00