Friday, December 28, 2007

Do You Make This Marketing Mistake?

For the past several days I’ve been sharing articles that I’ve found online while trying to learn more about marketing, websites and ecommerce. This one made me look at my online store and ask myself how I can market my products in a new way.

In a recent piece in the Harvard Business Review, the authors remind us what a normal person wants when they buy something. And no, it is NOT the thing they buy. Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt, they write, used to tell his students,"People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!" (Harvard Business Review, 12.05)

Think about your product. Are you selling its features, benefits, ingredients, or scientific validity? Or are you offering what someone might do or make happen with it? Like the drill - it's used to make a hole where there was none before. So when talking about your products, especially when you're talking to women, tell first how you used the products - what they did for you. Tell YOUR story (AKA Your First Date Script). Women (a big fat 80% majority of network marketers) always want to know FIRST how others are using the products you are offering - what they DO with it. Not what's in it. That's a big difference between how women and men buy. (Marketing to Women, Barletta).

So, what if you start with YOUR story? My company's introducing a product for women who... (...who want to get X done, like I did). Then you tell how YOU use the product and how it helped you do X. How it gave you the "quarter-inch hole" you wanted (AKA Your First Date Script). You end it by asking for someone like you - someone who wants to get the thing done that YOU got done.

Professor Levitt had the insight: Consumers, us, want to get things done. We all buy stuff (and hire people) to get those things done, including buying it just to be able to show it or talk about it with others. So, what 'got done' for you, by using your product? Next ask yourself: might there be others out there who'd like to know about a product that did that for you? And if the answer is yes, that is your market. Isn't it?

About the author: Kim Klaver is Harvard & Stanford educated. Her 20 years experience in network marketing have resulted in a popular blog, a podcast and a giant resource site,

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

How to Create a Money Magnet Web Site

If you've been online for more than a day you've probably heard some "guru" somewhere recommend that you create a Money Magnet Web Site - a site that is highly automated and helps you make money 24 hours a day. While that might “sound” great, what they often forget to tell you is HOW to do that.

Well, I'm going to tell you right now, in this article!

First, what IS a Money Magnet Web Site? A Money Magnet Web Site can be defined as one that is equipped with an integrated suite of both e-commerce and internet marketing tools in a fashion that will allow you to be the most profitable with the least amount of effort.

Most e-commerce systems are equipped with the following essentials:
- A shopping cart.
- Acceptance and processing of credit cards.
- A maintenance system that allows you to add/change products.
- An order-retrieval system that enables you to fulfill orders.

However, what most of them are lacking are marketing tools. There are several marketing strategies that are essential in the creation of a successful e-commerce web site:
- Email marketing (broadcasting) of prospects/customers
- Effective use of autoresponders (generate automatic email messages)
- Online Newsletter
- Online Form / Survey to capture your prospect's email address
- Electronic Product Delivery (if you sold a digital product)
- Advertisement (Ad) Tracking
- Back End Sales
- Affiliate program

Now, if you had a system that would support the integration of ALL of these marketing tools in addition to the necessary e-commerce essentials, then you would have a Money Magnet Web Site. After all, it has been shown that it often takes 7 or more ad exposures before prospective customers actually make a purchase. Consider the following scenario: A prospect clicks on an advertisement in an online magazine. This action increments a counter for this particular ad to help you determine how well it's working. They don't decide to buy as of yet but join your newsletter. They are now considered a prospect. You begin to send them a monthly email newsletter. Additionally, an autoresponder kicks into thank them for joining the newsletter as well as scheduling them to get email twice a month for the next 90 days reiterating your product benefits and inviting them to purchase.

Upon sending them one of your "juicy" offers that they couldn't refuse, they finally purchase. They will automatically be removed from your prospect list and added to your customer list. Based on the particular product or service they've purchased, they will receive a series of emails every two weeks for the next 6 months offering complementary products.

This will be the engine that will drive your back end sales and keep your customers coming back to your web site. Being able to play out a scenario such as this using one integrated system would be pretty impressive don't you think? The internet big boys do this with expensive e-commerce platform suites produced by vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. Having your system automatically perform these follow up tasks frees you up to spend more time on your business, your health or your family!

What can you do to obtain a money magnet web site? Fortunately, there are ways that you can automate your website in much the same way that the big boys do. The best and most cost-effective way would be to sign up with one of the handful of Application Service Providers available on the internet, which provide a shopping cart integrated with a full suite of marketing tools. Normally, the shopping cart and tools are very flexible and can be incorporated into any website. Are there any other ways to automate your business besides working with a total solution provider? You can accomplish some level of automation without an integrated shopping cart system, however, it will require manual intervention and of course it would be incomplete. I believe that the most important asset of your e-commerce business is your email lists.

Therefore, concentrate on the implementation of a good autoresponder/list server system to "enhance" your present e-commerce website. There are several good ones on the market. Look for providers that allow you to:
- Create multiple lists.
- Add prospects via a web form, email, or manually through a management console.
- Send out an unlimited number of autoresponder messages.
- Send out an unlimited number of email broadcasts.
- Set up and distribute a newsletter.

When setting up your autoresponder system, create one list for your "prospects" and another one for your "customers". Now, here's where you come in: when a person orders your product, you will have to perform the extra task of logging into your autoresponder system and manually remove them from the prospect list and add them to the customer list. This action will then trigger your customer autoresponder series of messages to be sent. Remember, the key to building a successful e-commerce web site is to automate your marketing engine as much as possible and will certainly create a money magnet e-commerce web site for you! To learn more about website automation and to download the complimentary ebook, "Easy Ezine Marketing", visit Izzy Camacho at
He is an accomplished software developer with approximately 20 years of experience. He has a degree in computer science from a distinguished university. For the last several years he has been involved in the creation of web site applications for corporate America. Article Source:

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Why Don’t People Buy From You?

1. You don't make people feel safe when they order. Remind people that they are ordering through a secure server. Tell them you won't sell their email address and that all their information will be kept confidential.

2. You don't make your ad copy attractive. Your ad lists features instead of benefits. The headline does not attract your target audience. You don't list any testimonials or "guarantees included" in your ad.

3. You don't remind people to come back and visit. People usually don't purchase the first time they visit. The more times they visit your site, the greater the chance they will buy. The most effective way is to give them a free subscription to your e-zine.

4. You don't let people know anything about your business. They will feel more comfortable if they know who they are buying from. Publish a section called "About Us" on your Web site. Include your business history, profile of employees, contact information, etc.

5. You don't give people as many ordering options as possible. Accept credit cards, checks, money orders, and other forms of electronic payments. Take orders by phone, email, Web site, fax, mail, etc.

6. You don't make your Web site look professional. You want to have your own domain name. Your Web site should be easy to navigate through. The graphics should be related to the theme of your Web site.

7. You don't let people read your ad before they get your freebie. When you use free stuff to lure people to your Web site, include it below your ad copy or on another Web page. If you list the freebie above your ad, they may never look to see what you're selling.

Author Larry Dotson. 1075 FREE Internet Marketing eBooks, Courses, And Web Books! FREE Content For Your eBook, Web Site Or E-zine!

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

More Internet Marketing Tips

Successful Internet marketing is not just getting lucky. Instead, successful Internet marketing is about making a plan based on the tools that have already proven successful and working that plan until they prove successful for you as well. The following tips for Internet marketing should help you get started and be successful as well.

Internet Marketing Tip #1 Well Designed Site
A well designed site from the font to the colors used as well as the layout is critical for success. Once you get people to your website you want them to stay there and in order for this to happen your site needs to look professional, be user friendly, informative and have all the information easily accessible to visitors. If you cannot design a site yourself then hire someone to do it for you. This expense really is worthwhile because a professional site reflects professional products and services whereas an amateur looking site reflects an amateur business that is not to be taken seriously.

Internet Marketing Tip #2 Links
Links are very important to your Internet marketing campaign simply because they will help you in the ratings. Because of this you want to strive to have as many one-way links or even backwards links to your site as possible. The more you have the higher your site will be ranked with Google, Yahoo, MSN, and other big search engines and the more visitors you will have.

Internet Marketing Tip #3 Keywords
Many search engines focus on keywords to help rank your site. For example, when an individual searches for a particular brand of shoes and you sell those shoes you want to be ranked close to the top to help you get a new customer. If you want that customer you need to include the keywords he is searching for on your website to help your site be returned as a result. Because of this you need a variety of keyword articles on your site that are written around a variety of keywords that people use to find your products or services.

Internet Marketing Tip #4 Things to Avoid
Your Internet marketing can be perfect and bring in lots of visitors, however if your site uses frames, flash, JavaScript, and things of that nature that make it difficult to load your site then you will lose your visitors no matter how low your prices or great your products or services. So, when you are designing your site be sure you are aware of the different design methods that could make your site look really good, but take too long to open and turn visitors away.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Website Success Recommendations from an Ex-Google Employee

1. Four of the 26 pointers by GoogleGuy speak of adding content.

Add, add, add.
Google loves it, and your visitors will love it.
Assure it is quality content though. You are looking for quality over quantity here.
Sure, you can turn out 5 mediocre articles in the time it takes to write one excellent article. However, once that excellent article is on your site, people will bookmark your page and recommend you to friends and online contacts.

2. Your website should be clean and simple.

The simpler the HTML that you have on your website, the more the search engines will like you. Also, the more simply your visitors can navigate and read your site, the more THEY will like you. How simple is the layout of Google itself?
Yes, very simple.
How popular is it?

3. Keep your pages small.

Aim for between 5K and 10K. Many of your visitors will still be using dial-up connections. Don't alienate these visitors by building pages that load slowly.

4. Keep your content pages to no more than 500 words, generally speaking.

If it gets longer, that's fine. Assure, however, that it is not rambling, that it NEEDS to be longer. If you can make it shorter, do so.

5. Use your keyword in the following ways:

Once in the title, once in the description tag, once in the heading, once in the url, once in bold, once in italic and once high on the page. Don't aim for misspelled keywords.
The search engines are getting smarter and now often correct spelling mistakes as people search for them.

6. On each page, link to one or two highly ranked websites, which relate to your industry.

Assure that the links are in context with the rest of the article. Use your keyword in the link.

7. Create links from one page to another within your website.

In this way, you even-out the entire PR of your website, as opposed to having one page which ranks very highly and other pages which don't. So, for example, if when writing one article, you mention a point, which is covered in more detail in another article, link to that article. Use the keyword for the other article in the link.

8. Make your navigation system usable; both for visitors and search engine spiders.

For your visitors, assure that it is a simple and clean system.
For the search engine spiders, assure that your links go no more than 3 links deep.
This means that no page should be any more than one other page from the home page.
Cross-link from articles as much as possible.

9. Submit your website to as many directories as possible.

Here you will find an extensive list of available directories - "Strongest Links"
Many are free. If you can afford it, pay the extra cash to have your site listed in Yahoo and Looksmart.

10. Request link swaps from related website.

Better yet, join a quality link exchange program. I use the "Link Exchange program" supplied for free by, with whom I host my other website, "Barcelona Explore"

11. Write good, concise content. Keep paragraphs short and to the point.

12. If you are using your website to promote your off-line business, don't just put up an online flyer.

Provide your visitors with information that they can use, not just information about you and your company. Unless they are specifically looking for information about you, they will click away from your site.

13. Study the information provided by your website statistics.

If your web host doesn't provide a good statistic program, use a free one like "StatCounter". Analyze the keywords that people have been using to find your site.
If any surprising ones come up, use them in your site.

14. Partake in forums pertaining to your website.

Absorb all the information that is out there, and more importantly, become part of it. The networking with other people in your sector is invaluable and will prove it's worth by increasing backlinks, viral networking and recommendations.

Following all these points will speed up your success. Success at any speed, however, is a guarantee if you focus on offering your visitors value, by providing excellent content.

About the Author: Ciara Carruthers is a successful website content writer. Employ her services or read her many free to use articles, including how to create a short term traffic building strategy.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Internet Home Business-Different Methods of Online Marketing

There are various approaches and method to online marketing. It is important to know about each method so that one can compare the results. This list sums up the online marketing methods.

Take a deep breath. This list is quite exhaustive!

Personal Marketing: This is marketing at personal level and includes telling your network and friends, making a business card, etc

Article Marketing: Article marketing implies writing articles and submitting them to web article directories. When you write article, you are allowed to put a backlink to your website in the author's bio box. People looking for information will come and read your article. If it interests them, they would visit your web site for more information. Article marketing is a very good method to build links for your site, enhance your website's search engine ranking and getting traffic. What is more, it is absolutely free until you wish to use paid services.

Bum marketing is a method of marketing using articles with a twist. Here, you search for potential keywords that can be dominated, write articles on those and submit them to article directories with an affiliate link to the product you want to promote.

Forum Marketing: A forum is a place where people gather and discuss their problems, strategies etc. There are many forums on the web that you can join and participate in discussion. Most of the forums allow a link back to your website in your signature text which would appear below the post you make. Again a good traffic builder.

Search Engine Marketing: This involves search engine optimization of your website design and content. Search engine use their algorithm to rank websites and when people search for something, these websites are displayed as the search engines would rank them. Search engine optimization or SEO are the methods by which you try to build your site and content so that it may please the search engines. You either learn SEO or use the paid services.

Pay Per Click Advertising: This is a paid service where you pay the service provider every time your link is clicked. This kind of marketing is quite popular with internet marketers. Apart from Google and Yahoo there are many other pay per click services available

Link Exchange: In this a website places a link for another website in exchange for its link on that site. Earlier it was also used for SEO purpose but a change in search engine algorithm has stripped that advantage. But it is still it is a powerful method for traffic generation.

Link Purchase: You can purchase placement of your website link on other website. This is very commonly done for SEO as one way incoming backlinks are used to rank your website by search engines. This method also brings in traffic if the site that you purchased link placement from is heavily visited website.

Classified Advertising: You can advertise your website on Classifieds websites on the web like and Both paid and free services are available.

Ezine Marketing: This refers to email marketing. You can start your own newsletter or ezine or electronic magazine, which your subscribers can choose to receive. Creating an ezine is an integral part of your internet business.
You can also choose to purchase an advertising space in the ezines that are already running successfully. Your website gets exposed to targeted readers who may like to become your customers.

List Building: This refers to building a subscribers database who are entered into the list of that database when they opt in for your ezine or agree to a free download against providing you their email address. You can contact these subscribers with your offers and promos.

Lead Purchase: There are some paid services, which will provide you with the names and email addresses of the people or leads against a payment. This method is called lead generation. This is done by them by placing your opt-in form (Form which a visitor fills in order to subscribe) on heavily visited websites, a process that you can do on your site also. Normally you are charged per lead.

Viral Marketing: Here, you make a useful product like an ebook or software and allow people to pass it on freely. This helps in spreading your website links and branding your site. Apart from ebook or software, you can also build some humorous video or funny email. Build anything that people would like to pass on and share.

Press Releases: Here, you build a press release for your website and submit it to one or more press release sites like Press releases are done to create awareness among the web visitors and are displayed on various news channels or sites on the net. Also builds increased back links. Both free and paid submissions are available.

Joint Ventures: Here two or more marketers come together and promote a product or service in a way that it will benefit them all. Joint ventures are a great way to build your business because the marketing efforts are combined and results are always more than individual efforts.

Affiliate Program: You can launch your own affiliate program where people can join. Then they would advertise your product with their affiliate link. When a sale is made, they get a preset commission. You will need an affiliate program manager to do this. offers an easy alternative.

Resell Rights Marketing: You can offer resell rights to your product where people would be able to sell it and keep all the money. It increases your product value and helps in building a name because more sales are made than when you sell it just on your own. Helps in branding too.

RSS Marketing: RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and it may be difficult to conceptualize in the beginning. RSS works by RSS feeds which needs to be generated by a website. People can subscribe to these RSS feeds and can view the content of the website via their RSS reader. By this people are enabled to receive the content directly on their desktop. This method is quite new as compared to others and has become really popular following spam issues in email marketing.

Blog Marketing: Blog is an online journal, which you can update on regular basis. You need a blogging platform like Wordpress or Blogger etc and you can publish at their site or host on your own. Blogs are immensely popular with marketers and are very much loved by search engines. A must for your business.

Social Bookmarking: This is latest marketing buzz. There are online bookmarking sites available, which people can use to bookmark the places on the web they like. You can display these bookmarking buttons on your site or blog and people may submit the link for bookmarking if they like your site. Generates good traffic.

Video Marketing: This is even newer. You can upload a video on the sites that allow. People would watch and then visit your site. Theory is similar to article marketing but media used is different. A popular website that allows video upload is

About the Author: Arun Pal Singh is an internet marketing consultant and web author who runs website to help budding online entrepreneurs with information and ready made products. Visit to find how his ebooks, softwares, audios, website building material, traffic strategies and training videos and information can provide the leverage that your business needs to grow and expand.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Viral Marketing Tactics

Truly there is no trick to viral marketing, no strange equations such as those found in SEO strategies. All that is necessary is to get people talking about your website, emailing about your website and just generally creating a buzz.

Every website owner should certainly include one or more of the following in his or her own e-commerce game plan.

1. Email Signature

This is certainly the quickest and most simple method of ‘infecting’ the e-world with your message. Attach a message both intriguing and explanatory, with perhaps a touch of humor if it fits your niche. Then, just get into contact with others; compliment other website owners on their site design, offer advice or opinions, or ask a question.

The key is to make your email memorable or valuable, so as that the receiver of the email may pass it on to a friend or business contact. One gold nugget of advice here is to build a list of business contacts. Such a list is easy to build via the usage of forums or online communities. From there, just keep your eye open for tools or articles, which you feel, may interest your contacts.

Don’t spam your contacts! Just offer them value and a neat little signature back to your website!

2. Offer Something For Free

One of the most searched for words on the internet today is: Free.
Every second website we encounter offers us something for free because that little four letter word is what catches the prey. Free newsletters are abounding, to the point where we now hate to subscribe; we would actually need to be paid to subscribe at times.

If from your website you can offer something of great value to your visitors, for free, you can set the virus free quite efficiently. Think ebook, ezine, member-only resource center, screensaver and desktop downloads. Find a way, always, to imbed a link, or preferably many links, to your website within whatever you are offering.

3. Article Writing

Writing articles and posting them on article distribution sites is actually a form of viral marketing. Why? Because if you have a good article, it will eventually end up distributed all around the net, all after you spending an hour writing and posting the article. Simple!

The process is simple: Write an excellent article, full of profitable keywords and post it to numerous article distribution sites. Slowly, as people find and republish your articles, the number of links pointing into your site will grow, as will your most important brand; your name.

Click on the following link to discover how to: Write Effective Web Content.

4. Affiliate Programs

So, can you pay to have other people ‘viralize’ your marketing? Yes.
This blessing comes in the name of Affiliate Programs. The wonderful part of it, of course, is that you only pay if it works!

Of course, you need a product to sell, as the method of payment to your affiliate is offered in the form of a percentage of the sale, which they have created. Ergo, you need a product or service to sell.

5. Make it easy for visitors to bookmark and recommend your site

This is also a very simple tactic to use and implement. It may not get you amazing results as it is a very passive form of marketing. However, it is good to make bookmarking and recommending your site as easy as possible for your visitor.

In closing, it should be noted that the benefits of a viral marketing campaign cannot be reaped straight away; patience is required. Those who are patient, and keep slowly working away on their plan, will realize just how powerful a good viral marketing campaign can be.

About the Author: Ciara Carruthers is a professional website content writer, specializing in the creation of ‘Information Centers’.
Discover the Viral Marketing Principles: The Basics, on her website, “Website Copywriter”.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Online Business, Shopping Carts and Paypal

The Paypal sign has become so common, almost everyone has seen it while shopping online. A great many online retailers and auctions sites, such as eBay are using Paypal, even many traditional stores who have websites now use it. It is easy for anyone, whether a business or a consumer, to set up an account and use it.

Though most people who have been on the internet for awhile know what Paypal is, there are still some who don't. Paypal is a payment system that facilitates a person's ability to request and accept payments, send invoices, and withdraw money to savings or checking account. Paypal will also send a check for funds when requested. Another option is to get Paypal's debit card or even their credit card.

Anyone can use Paypal's website with ease as navigation is simple. Basic, premier and merchant are the account types available. The basic account is for those who only plan to make instant transfers from one account to another and to make payments for online purchases. With the premier account, credit card payments can be accepted and the merchant account is for those who use Paypal extensively for business.

There are no fees associated with the basic account, but to accept credit card payments, there are fees. Considering the convenience that the ability to accept credit cards has, these fees are quite reasonable. Subscription services that allow customers to subscribe to have fees withdrawn from their account for monthly services are available, too. Even donations can be set up as a service. A protection service is also offered that protects both consumers and businesses from fraud.

Do you need to invoice for services, multiple purchases or shipping and handling? With Paypal's invoicing tool, you can create invoices that are itemized with the taxes and shipping charges included. The requirements for Paypal are a valid checking account, physical address and email address to set up an account. There is no credit check and it is easy to use. The information required during sign up is, of course, needed to facilitate notifications, money transfers and shipping address for purchased items. It also gives Paypal the information needed if you request that a Paypal check be sent to you. As a safe means of paying for purchases and receiving funds, Paypal is about the best available online at this time.

Many businesses find that using shopping carts makes for greater ease and convenience when consumers make purchases. This doesn't eliminate the use of Paypal, however. Quite a few shopping carts have the ability to interface with the services offered by Paypal. One example is Customers will still be able to use Paypal for their purchases when using your shopping cart. There are more features with the shopping cart than could be had with Paypal alone.

So customers are not even aware of the redirection to the shopping cart site, it is possible to match the shopping cart to your site in the set up at places like There are often features offered with shopping carts, such as affiliate programs, customer tracking, quantity discounts, coupons, shipping labels, accounting software interfaces, auto-mail responders and many other things, that Paypal doesn't offer. Easier payments, easier account management, more choices for you and your customers are what you can get with a shopping cart and Paypal interface.

When you use a shopping cart instead of just using Paypal, you are able to offer more checkout options as well as Paypal. There are customers who would rather not go through the sign-up process for Paypal and just buy from one place. Since the checkout process is longer and can be tedious for customers who have to sign up for Paypal, having other payment options saves a good deal of time.

Having a shopping cart with lots of choices that make things easier for customers will keep them returning to make more purchases and bookmarking you site future ease in finding you.

For sending, receiving, transferring of money and for invoicing services and purchases, the ease, convenience and low cost of Paypal is hard to beat. Paypal's reasonable fees and the ability to interface with many shopping cart programs makes it easy for you, the seller, to allow customers multiple payment choices. A shopping cart with a Paypal interface gives you such features as customer tracking, shipment tracking, account management, and coupons, as well as affiliate programs. Think about using a shopping cart such as the one at for your online business. There are several such shopping carts and all have wonderful features. This is about the best course you can take if you do a considerable amount of business. If you do a light amount of selling, just Paypal might be all you need.

About the Author: Nick Hurd is the CEO of, LLC. is complete shopping cart and e-commerce system that supports a comprehensive package of tools that totally automate the marketing and fulfillment requirements for its clients. You can find more information at - a shopping cart and e-commerce system on steroids.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Essential Tips to Opening a Payment Processing Merchant Account

If you want to start accepting credit card payments online for the first time, then this article is a must read. Before obtaining a merchant account, make sure you shop around and do your research. Let the buyer beware certainly applies when choosing a merchant account provider, as there are many important aspects which need to be considered. Making a poor choice is likely to result in numerous complications and high unexpected ongoing costs.

Often, businesspeople new to online business will focus on one merchant account issue: discount rate. A discount rate is the flat percentage taken from each credit card transaction by a merchant account provider. Although getting a reasonable rate is important, there are many other charges, fees, limits and business considerations that need to be considered. Issues like customer service, provider reputation, and how a provider performs risk assessment on your business are all important.

10 tips to consider before choosing your merchant account provider:

1. KNOW YOUR NEEDS – Do you want batch (manual) payment processing or real time processing? If you expect low volume sales then manual processing may be a viable route. Before approaching merchant account processors know your actual or expected margins, transaction volume and internal resources. What will your hardware, software and service requirements be? You can go directly to banks or ISOs for merchant accounts, however putting together all the components to e-commerce (catalog system, credit card processing, order system, billing system, etc) can be a nightmare. This is where sometimes it can pay to partner with a ‘holistic’ payment processor which may charge slightly higher rates, but can provide complete and secure payment processing merchant accounts.

2. 24 HOUR PAYMENT CUSTOMER SERVICE – Not only is it wise for you to get 24 hour technical support for your merchant account, but also of great importance is 24 hour payment support for your own paying customers. Providing 24 hour telephone payment support on your website for high volume sites could increase sales by 20-30%, especially in the early stages whilst you fine tune your site.

3. RELIABILITY & INTEGRITY– Check the merchant account providers trading history and try to get testimonials or reviews of the processor. A dishonest processor can tack on declined transaction charges in numerous ways, so it is important to work with a reputable processing company. Common complaints against merchant account providers include sudden rate increases, long term lock-in contracts, hidden fees and add-on charges, high monthly-minimums, heavy rolling chargeback reserves, high chargeback fees, and surprise monthly processing limits.

4. SPEED OF SERVICE – If it takes more than 3-4 business days to get your merchant account up and running, then start questioning the setup and capability of a processor. Likewise if approval is instant or overnight, alarm bells should also start to ring. Setting up a new merchant account should take 2-4 days to allow for a thorough risk assessment and appropriate account setup.

5. FEES – Make sure you gain full visibility of all fees (application, setup, statement, transaction, discount rate, and fraudulent transactions – chargeback’s). Ask for a full disclosure of ALL merchant account fees and charges before signing anything! Also bear in mind that depending on your business setup; your merchant account processor may have to hold a reserve on your account.

6. UNDERWRITING AND RISK ASSESSMENT – Before approving a merchant account, the merchant account provider will underwrite and perform a risk assessment of your business and business model. Find out if your business will be classified as “High Risk”. If you trade in a high risk industry such as adult, travel, dating, or pharmacy, then you will have to approach a high risk merchant account specialist.

7. FRAUD MANAGEMENT – Chargeback’s and fraud related charges can be a very high cost for some online businesses. Make sure you protect your profits by using a processor that has a sophisticated and comprehensive fraud management system. A large variety of methods to minimize fraud should be in place on your merchant account including customer details verification, geographical location cross-checks, and known fraudster database cross-checks.

8. HIDDEN CLAUSES – Read the fine print. Read ALL of the fine print. Too many people today skim over the content of a service contract, which in the payment processing industry is very unwise. Be warned, low rates rarely equate with merchant friendly policies.

9. INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS - A card from outside of the processor's country results in what is often called a non-qualified rate, which can result in a fee of 3.50% - 6% of the sale. If you expect card payments from more than one country, try to choose a processor that has an international payment network, who also supports transactions in multiple currencies. If you wish to advertise to multiple markets, a multi-currency and multi-lingual platform is a must to maximize your revenue potential.

10. MONTHLY LIMITS - As a precaution, many merchant account providers will impose limits on your monthly revenue intake. Processing more than your limit, in some cases will also result in held funds. The length of time the funds are held depends on the risk factor and the bank with which you deal. Should you surpass the limit that the bank is willing to allow for more than three months, you may receive an immediate termination letter. Look for a merchant account that is flexible with your needs. Some merchant account providers have policies with generous limits or no limit at all.

Take a wide perspective on factors such as sensible policies and superior customer service when choosing the best provider for your unique business needs. Evaluate security protocols, reliability, and the degree of customer care your business will receive. Every business is unique, and the best merchant account provider for each business will vary from one provider to the next.

About the Author: Damien Gough is an experienced online business development specialist, who has assisted a variety of internet start up businesses spanning the United Kingdom, USA, and Australia. He has multi industry experience with general ecommerce sites such as recruitment, retail and manufacturing, as well as sites such as dating and travel which require high risk merchant account services.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Building a Successful Ecommerce Website

Here's a good article called 8 Rules for a Successful Ecommerce Website I found over at

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Brides Cookbook Online!

My hard copy cookbook is done and on my store! I am so excited!

I've worked on this a long time and appreciate having a CafePress store where I can sell it myself!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Brides Cookbook or Surviving the First Year

I’ve been working on my store of course, but the reason my postings have been a little sparse lately is, I’ve also been writing a cookbook. I am testing it online as an e-book first. I like the idea of a cookbook being on the computer because so many of us have computers in or near the kitchen and we can just pull up a recipe, as we need it. And e-books have searches built in so you can jump right to the recipe you want.

It’s been a fun project and I do plan on putting it on CafePress as a print on demand in the not too distant future. The recipes are very easy and I have included lots of entertaining and “setting up house” tips.

Check it out!

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