Half of start-ups fail within five years and online failure rates run even higher at 97 percent, notes WebVantage Technologies. What is the survivors’ secret? The rules governing traditional business success also apply online, with appropriate adaptations. These include avoiding some of the most common e-commerce errors.

Your Website Isn’t an Island

A typical e-commerce failure story goes like this: a business owner decides he needs to get online. He pays for a website, expecting that once launched, it will automatically generate inquiries. A year later, after seeing no results, he prematurely concludes online marketing doesn’t work.

Of course, websites can make money, as proven by Amazon and other success stories. The problem here is not the Internet, but a bad marketing strategy which treats websites as islands isolated from overall business planning. Effective online campaigns reflect comprehensive strategies, including smart pricing options based on comparative shopping, such as that provided by WebHostingBlueBook.com and similar services.

They Can’t Buy If They Don’t Visit


Some traditional businesses fail because they pick a bad location. The same restaurant could wither in one place, and thrive in another, simply because more people visit the latter locale. Similarly, a website without traffic is doomed from birth. Your website plan should include a promotional strategy to attract visitors, using tools such as social media publicity and online advertising.

Don’t Rely on One Visit to Make the Sale

If you review website designs for small businesses, you will find many resembling online business cards. They describe services and provide company contact information as if this alone will generate inquiries. A smarter strategy is to offer visitors an incentive to provide their own contact information. This enables follow-up marketing efforts via email, phone calls and direct mail, rather than relying on one visit.

Sell One Step at a Time

We all tune out commercials and throw out junk mail we’re not interested in. Many sites are designed like one-page ads, offering something we never asked for. The odds are good most visitors to such sites will only read a few seconds before clicking away.

If you want visitors to stay long enough to buy something, you’ll have more luck selling to them one step at a time, following a logical sales sequence. Use some parts of your site to attract visitors and others to arouse their interest. Gradually build their desire, and guide them towards your offer. Don’t rely on a single sales page.

Repeat Business Beats Being a One-Sale Wonder

A customer who gets ripped off by a used car dealer won’t be returning the next time they need a vehicle. Some websites treat visitors like a quick buck, aiming for one sale without any follow-up customer service or attempts to offer additional value. Multiply your profits by developing a lifetime relationship with your customers to generate repeat business, and you’ll avoid your site becoming a one-visit wonder.

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