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January 2009
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How To Profit Online in 2009

With all the bad economic news we’ve been hearing, I’d like to help start the year off for online marketers on a hopeful, positive note!  Although there are plenty of bleak facts and figures out there, we also have some promising ecommerce numbers to share.

David Hallerman, a Senior Analyst with eMarketer.com says that Internet ad spending in the US will increase 8.9% to $25.7 billion in 2009.  While that growth rate indicates the lowest annual growth ever, it is still a pretty robust increase (nearly $6 billion) when compared to other markets.

The Neilsen Company’s 2009 Industry Outlook indicates that online activities will continue to grow since consumers are expected to spend more time at home.  The report states that this trend will result in consumers spending 17% more time each day on ecommerce sites, and 20% more time each day reading blogs.

These numbers add up to an abundance of opportunities to earn an income online during 2009, even if you’re just getting started on your online presence.  Here are some key strategies to kick start your online business in 2009:

Help Your Visitors Save Money

A recent Retailer Daily survey reports that the  main reasons people shop online are to save money, save time and locate hard to find products.  Furthermore, the majority of online buyers report being motivated to purchase by special prices and free shipping offers.

Consider what steps your business can take to help your customers feel like they’re getting a good deal.  Offer free shipping, coupon specials, or even use loyalty programs to encourage repeat purchases.

Make sure that any specials or promotions you are offering are clearly stated and displayed – don’t make site visitors search for the information, shout it out at every opportunity.  Add coupon codes or free shipping offers to your email signature, newsletters, and flyers you send out with orders.

Encourage Purchases Based on Recommendations

The Razorfish Consumer Experience Report states that automated recommendations given by a website (such as Amazon’s “Frequently Bought Together” feature) resulted in 65% of online buyers making purchases based on these recommendations.  That translates to 6 out of 10 customers buying additional products that were suggested on the website.

That same report also indicates that 49% of buyers make purchases based on recommendations from social media sites like Facebook, MySpace, Squidoo and the like.  At the same time, it is estimated that only 25% of retailers have created a Facebook page.

Use these trends to your advantage by taking the few minutes necessary to setup a page for your business at the top social networking sites and add some recommended related products for purchase to your retail web pages.

Use Technology to Enhance Sales

Blog software is so easy and inexpensive to use that there is really no excuse for ignoring the Neilsen report that people will spend 20% more time each day reading blogs.  You don’t have to commit to posting everyday, just be sure to remain consistent.  Figure out what kind of a schedule will work for you – once a day, once a week, several times a month – and just stick with it.  It can take a few months before your hard work pays off in traffic, but it will be worth it in the long run.

And finally, add some video to your online presence.  An incredible 94% of Internet users watch videos online with some level of frequency, and the Neilsen report estimates that people will spend 46% MORE time watching them in 2009.  You don’t have to hire a fancy studio to get it going either.  A simple web camera will work and you can get started with a simple introductory type video.  Just introduce yourself and welcome your visitors to your website.  Then consider expanding your video library from there by adding “how to” type clips using products that you sell.  Be sure to also upload your video clips to sites like YouTube for additional exposure.

Your online business can benefit dramatically, even during a dowturn, by following these key strategies and combining them with superior customer service.

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