I know how to get a blank stare from just about any e-commerce website owner. All I have to do is ask them about their website marketing plan. When I ask them about their website marketing plan, I get that look. First the eyebrows go up. Then the eyes glaze over for a minute. And then the stammering begins. Sometimes there is no plan above the URL and printed business cards. Sometimes in addition to these strategies, they may opt in to start a newsletter. Sometimes my clients may go as far as to mention search engines.

However; for the most part the plan is scattered and is applied elsewhere, say… through the brick and mortar strategies. You know how the old saying goes: “Failure to plan is a plan to fail.” Most small business owners I talk to are frustrated. They think their website is a big waste of money. An “online business card.” A “marketing expense” that doesn’t return any of its investment. And no wonder.

You’ve spent thousands on a pretty web design. You shell out dough each and every month for website hosting. You may even be paying a webmaster to update the website regularly. And month after month, year after year, the sales barely trickle in.

Marketing your web site is frustrating. It’s confusing! So we end up doing what all of us do when we’re frustrated and confused: deal with it “later.” And later never comes. Know what? It’s not your fault! No one ever taught you how to market on the Internet, this new medium. (They sure didn’t cover that in my marketing class when I was in school.) And there’s all that hype on the Internet – so called web marketing gurus who’ve made millions online. But guess what? The only thing they’ve ever sold is reports and e-books on – what else – “how to market on the Internet.” They’ve never packed and shipped a box or ran down the street after the UPS guy.

After 10 years of marketing and selling on the web, I’ve boiled it down to a winning eight-step formula. This formula works for any website business, for any product from amber gemstone jewelry to zebra-print home accessories. In a nutshell, the eight no-fail steps of this formula are:
Define Your Goals: With no clearly defined purpose, your web site can’t succeed. Be specific with each goal, adding both an amount and a time-frame.

  1. Take a Snapshot: How’s your website performing now? Know your traffic stats
  2. Define Your Market: Who are you talking to? Be specific about who your products are for.
  3. Get Them There: Build targeted web traffic by getting your target audience’s attention.
  4. Turn Visitors into clients: Once you’ve gotten them to your site, seal the deal before they leave.
  5. Increase Their Spending: Since they’ve got their wallet open, ask for the add-on or up-sell.
  6. Return Clients: It’s cheaper to get an old client to buy again than it is to recruit new ones.
  7. Friends: A happy customer can be your best sales tool. Empower them to spread the word.
  8. This by no means excludes the power of social networking.

These ideas are a great starting foundation, marketing your website takes a lot of time, a lot of development, and a lot of creativity. Having a starting point is a great plan, and once you’ve rinsed and repeated enough times, more refined and unique methods of internet marketing will come forth, strategies that are specifically tailored to your specific pursuits.