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Entertain Your Customers Online

 
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PostPosted: Dec Sun 17, 2006 2:34 pm    Post subject: Entertain Your Customers Online Reply with quote

Entertain Your Customers Online

Make Sales Happen By Entertaining Your Customers
By Sue Barrett

Building a website with all the high-tech features may dazzle your customers, but will it make them buy? Online shopping has attracted customers because of the price discounts and wide variety of choices it can offer. Customers can save valuable time and money shopping on the internet. However, the physical shopping world offers something that most websites haven't yet mastered: entertainment. Shopping has traditionally been a group-oriented activity that's entertaining. Besides purchasing products, people can use this recreational activity to get together, chat and relax. Browsing is entertainment.

The new Metreon recently opened out here in San Francisco. This retail center has put a new twist on shopping that plays up what the internet shopping experience lacks: human interaction and entertainment. People go here to play and have fun while they shop. The Metreon creates a stimulating environment by including many touch-sensitive activities. In addition, people are treated as guests rather than shoppers they can sit back, relax and watch TV with friends, listen to CDs, play video games, send e-mail postcards and more all for free.

If you provide an atmosphere on your website where your visitors can be entertained while browsing, will they buy? Will they buy more? Will they be more likely to return next week because they enjoyed their visit? Although it may be too early to tell, consider your own online shopping experiences.

Entertainment is one factor that many websites currently don't include. Is it costing them sales? Examine your specific target market: would fifteen minutes of shopping at your site be more enjoyable if it were entertaining as well? If so, what online activities will help you create that type of atmosphere? Without investing a lot of time or money, you can implement some very basic interactive tools on your website that will give your visitors the option to participate in a variety of activities while they are browsing. You don't even need to understand advanced programming, CGI or javascript.Here are some examples of basic interactive tools that get your visitors more involved in your website and at the same time can give you valuable information about your target market:

1. Polls/questionnaires: customers can voice their opinions
2. Quizzes/games: customers can test their skills
3. Message boards: customers can ask questions and get answers from others
4. Classified ad pages: customers can advertise a product or service, or make a purchase
5. Discussion groups: customers can find information on certain topics that interest them
6. Search engines: customers can easily and quickly search your website for information they want
7. E-mail: customers can contact you directly with questions or comments
8. Feedback forms: customers can let you know what they think about your website or service
9. Weekly or monthly online newsletter: customers can have information that they are interested in delivered directly to them


Note that you can offer all of these activities to your website visitors for free. If you consistently update your information, change your activities for variety and respond quickly to all messages, these tools can attract visitors back to your site again and again. This effective low-tech solution can deliver valuable information to both you and your visitors. It can also improve customer satisfaction and retention, decrease operating costs, improve the level of service and increase revenues. Watch out! Interactive tools can distract your customers from buying. You don't want technology to work against you, so make sure that these activities synchronize with whatever you're selling on your website. On a small business budget? Don't worry! There are many interactive tools that you can use on your site for free. In addition, you can easily install basic tools that are remotely hosted on other sites. That translates to: no programming for you!

Here are some good resources:
www.Bytecenter.com www.Freefind.com www.Hostedscripts.com

E-commerce success may actually not be a result of the high-tech bells and whistles on your site but the community and human interaction that you provide to bring your customers back. If you aren't getting the results you want from your website, reach out to your visitors. You may find that's just what they want. About the Author: Sue Barrett works for FApublications and operates the Home Business Center, which has helped hundreds of people successfully start their own home businesses. For more information on increasing your sales, visit www.homebusinesscenter.com or contact Sue at editor@homebusinesscenter.com. FApublications, 31 N San Mateo Drive Suite 144, San Mateo, CA 94401-2865
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