The Amazon River starts as a drop of rain falling into a tiny trickle of a stream way up in the mountains of South America. At its end, the Amazon pumps up to 300,000 cubic meters of water into the Atlantic Ocean every second during the rainy season. To build from a trickle to a torrent, over 1,000 individual tributaries feed into and build the Amazon’s flow over its 4,049 mile trek to the Atlantic. Just as the Amazon builds, your online business must feed off multiple channels to survive, thrive and grow through ever-changing market conditions.
The three basics
Every ecommerce business comes back to three things: Traffic, Conversion and Products. Targeted website traffic is the water flowing through your online business to bring people to your websites to buy your products or services. Without traffic, the whole process never even gets started because nobody sees your site or discovers your product. With enough traffic, even the crummiest site will convert and the most worthless product will sell. Now, assuming you operate a good site and sell a worthwhile product, the real name of the game is diversifying across multiple traffic sources to maximize the flow of traffic across your site.
eBay, Google, Amazon and others got big and stay big not because they sell a necessity (though that helps), but because they focus on something most businesses don’t: controlling the customer. To sell or buy on eBay, you must register. To buy or sell on Amazon, you must register. To advertise on Google AdWords or to list items on Froogle or Google Base, you need a Google Account. Bottom line, all the “heavy hitters” make getting subscribers an integral part of their ecommerce strategy and you must do the same.
If you sell on eBay, don’t devalue your main products by potentially selling at a discount! Take a two-step approach by selling little “feeder” products or sell special reports that grab customers en masse at a low price. Once you get them into your stream of communication, build a relationship with them though email and direct mail, then sell them your core products on the back end. If you want to use Amazon, self publish a book (it’s easy with print-on-demand) with a keyword optimized title and description, list it on Amazon at a “no-brainer” price, and use it to develop leads you work over time.
Use similar tactics with Froogle.com (Google’s shopping engine)! Find popular, low-cost items purchased by members of your target audience and offer them at break-even, or near break-even pricing to attract traffic to your site. Structure your landing page to attract subscribers (offer a free report) as well as sales and then work the people on the back end for sales of your primary products.
When you look at any traffic source, stop asking how you can make an immediate sale and start asking how you can use the site to quickly and easily grab targeted subscribers. In other words, stop looking for the immediate sale and start thinking in terms of filling your river with a steady flow of customers and prospects who can buy from you repeatedly. With ever-rising advertising prices and competition in virtually every online market, the long-term winners in the ecommerce game understand that cultivating relationships with customers and subscribers spells success.