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The Ultimate Guide to Online Marketing Systems

I get many questions from solo business owners asking me which online marketing service should they use (or variations thereof):
“I use Constant Contact for my newsletter but want to start selling products via my website. Do I need 1ShoppingCart to do this?”
“Which is the best service to use for my newsletter – Constant Contact or Aweber?”
“I want to use an autoresponder service. Do I need 1ShoppingCart or Aweber?”
You get the idea!
This is something that many solopreneurs find a difficult decision to make; after all there are so many different choices and services available and the cost of each one varies a lot too!
So, which one to choose…
– Should you go with a service like Constant Contact that is purely for newsletter broadcasts and doesn’t have an autoresponder or shopping cart feature?
– What about a service like Aweber for your newsletter broadcasts and also comes with autoresponders, but no shopping cart feature?
– Or should you just go with a service like 1ShoppingCart that has all the features you need but with a hefty price tag?
I sound like an episode of House Hunters don’t I… (If you don’t watch this program you won’t know what I’m talking about!)
To help you decide the best service for you I have put together a list of the Pros and Cons of Constant Contact, Aweber, and 1ShoppingCart (although these are by no means the only services available!) I’m using these examples because they’re the ones I get asked the most about, and I also know each of these services very well having used them all over the past few years.
Whichever service you want to use, before you decide…
Ask yourself these two crucial questions:
1. Decide what the long-term goals are for your business? (For example do you plan on just sending out a newsletter or do you want to sell information products via your website and have the ability to follow up with your customers via autoresponders?)
2. Check to see which of these services will meet your long-term goals?
From my own experience I can tell you that going a cheaper router can be a false economy and can lead to its own headaches as your business grows, so carefully consider all of your goals, and the options each service provides, before making your decision. What I’m sharing with you here is a quick overview of each of the three services I mentioned above and the benefit of my experience of each of these systems. Keep in mind when reading through this list, that this is only a very broad overview of each service; you’ll need to refer to each one for specifics.
Constant Contact
Pros
* Has 100’s of HTML templates for you to choose from
* Will automatically convert your HTML email into plain text format
* Has the ability to create as many different interest categories as you need
* Can schedule broadcasts ahead of time and to go out at a set time of day
* Can create a custom sign-up web form for visitors to be automatically added to your database
* Has very detailed click through statistics
Cons
* Is an email marketing-only service, so you cannot create follow-up autoresponders
* Does not have any shopping cart functions
Aweber
Pros
* Has many HTML templates for you to choose form (although not as many as Constant Contact)
* Ability to create as many different lists as you need, i.e. one for your newsletter, another one for your teleclass sign-ups etc.
* Can schedule broadcasts ahead of time and to go out at a set time of day
* Can follow-up with your clients via unlimited autoresponders
* Can create a custom sign-up web form for visitors to be automatically added to your database
* Provides click through statistics
* Has a very high email deliverability rate
Cons
* Does not automatically convert your HTML newsletter into text – you have to copy and paste the information
* Does not have any shopping cart functions
1ShoppingCart
Pros
* You can manage your entire business through this one service – newsletters, autoresponders, shopping cart, affiliate program
* Offers different levels of service depending on your needs
* Can follow-up with your clients via unlimited autoresponders
* Can create a custom sign-up web form for visitors to be automatically added to your database
Cons
* No HTML templates so you will either need to get someone to prepare your broadcasts for you, or have your own HTML software and prepare your broadcasts in this program and upload to 1SC
* Doesn’t have the ability to create a text version of your HTML newsletter – you will need to do this yourself and upload to 1SC
* Has a technical interface, so if you’re not comfortable using technology you may find this service difficult to use
* Can schedule broadcasts to go out ahead of time, but can’t set a specific time of day
Conclusion: Carefully consider all of your options before deciding on a service and see if that service will meet your long-term goals. If you prefer to use a broadcast-only service initially, Constant Contact would be a good choice, and you can then find a shopping cart service later on as your business grows. Keep in mind though that if you do go this route you will be running and maintaining two separate databases – one for your newsletter broadcasts, and the other for your online product sales.Online Business Manager & Virtual Assistant, Tracey Lawton, teaches online service professionals how to operate an efficient, organized, and profitable business. Let Tracey teach you how to create an efficient and organized office in 7 EASY steps and receive free how-to articles at http://www.OfficeOrganizationSuccess.com
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eCommerce plugin, digital store plugin and paypal shopping cart plugin

Anyone who’s been working online experiences severe bouts of “put up a site and never touch it again” :)…..I’m kidding of course, however, sometimes it becomes difficult to get motivated and go back to update older sites.

I’ve got some really old sites that need to major remodeling and I’ve been procrastinating severely!

The reason is because they are static sites and I want to either convert them to wordpress sites or I want to turn it into a wordpress site. Those really are 2 different tasks. The first instance, I would have to take all exsiting pages and turn them into either wordpress pages or wordpress posts. In the second case, I would leave the existing static site intact and add a wordpress blog, any further additions to the site would be done through the worpdress blog.

One site I want to turn into a membership site and I’ve been researching solutions for turning a wordpress blog into a membership site. It’s amazing how many wordpress membership plugins have entered the scene in the last year….some expensive and all encompassing and some simple and cheap. It’s important to keep in mind the ultimate purpose of the membership. Simple membership sites known as Micro-Memberships are easy to set up and run with the right system and if you use wordpress with a membership plugin….setting up and maintaining these micro memberships becomes very easy. So….my goal is to turn a couple of my sites into these micro membership sites and see what happens.

I have another site with tons of ebooks, videos, smallreports and a variety of other eproducts. I wanted to turn it into a type of directory site that I’m sure you’ve seen, however, I wanted to take advantage of wordpress’s seo capabilities and easy managment, so, I’ve been looking for an ecommerce plugin that would work specifically with digital downloads. I think I found one at Tips and Tricks HQ….in fact you should visit the site because you’ll find a variety of good and free stuff, but they have a very nice eCommerce Plugin for Digital Products that I’m anxious to try out.

My other project is to turn an exsiting static hodgepodge site into a ecommerce site. This becomes a priority because it’s my wife’s site and someting I’ve been promising to do for a long time. Liz is an artist and paints glassware. So the site sells hand painted glasses of various types and other one off art pieces. There’s a shopping cart on the site now that uses paypal, however it is very archaic and shipping and handling charges are a real pain….besides all that the site was one of my first and now looks horrible!

So….I really need to spruce it up and work and getting some traffic to the site. WordPress is my best option and there are a ton of WordPress ecommerce themes or storefront type themes. In fact, the options that are available today for creating a storefront or ecommerce site with wordpress are absolutely staggering. I’ve been researching the best method of creating a storefront or just a site that I can sell a few products with for the last month and it seems as though wordpress is a given but the selection of a specific method of creating the ecommerce site is mind numbing.

So, as I go on with my research I’ve decided to compile a list of resources and recommend what I think to be the best solutions to:

  • ecommerce with wordpress
  • digital store plugin
  • storefront with wordpress
  • directory type site with wordpress
  • membership site with wordpress

Right now I’m leaning toward a WP plugin from Tips and Tricks HQ called WP eStore Plugin for the digital store, it has everything I need. Integration with Aweber, built in shopping cart, instant delivery and security for eproducts, easy checkout, integration with eMember Plugin, integration with NextGen Gallery for digital images, and a whole lot more. I’ll keep track of my progress as I move forward with the selection of these plugins and let you know how they work…..so keep tuned!

As far as Liz’s site that sells physical products, I’m not sure yet. The Market Theme is an ecommerce storefront theme with shopping cart, everything is built in and looks very nice. They have some nice example sites. There’s another theme and shopping cart combination that I just found at Shopperpress.com, it offers even more, though I still need to investigate.

When remodeling any website I would caution you not to just jump into the first thing that looks good. Do your due diligence and make sure your research is good. Changing an existing ecommerce site or creating a new one is not a process you want to go through twice…..especially after pages get spidered and indexed.

Choosing Cheap Reseller Web Hosting

If you are building a new website or looking for a new web host for a website you have already built, you have probably been doing some searching for an inexpensive, reliable hosting package.  Chances are, you have done a few internet searches and visited one or two of the hosting provider comparison websites.  But, have you considered selecting a cheap reseller web hosting package?

Some people are leery of using reseller web hosts.  This is often because many resellers often disguise the fact that they are resellers (due to some people’s reluctance to use resellers).  It may also be because some people are not comfortable with the idea of purchasing web hosting from an individual person who is simply selling his extra disk space and bandwidth.

There is actually no legitimate reason to be distrustful and skeptical of reseller web hosts.  Reseller web hosting involves purchasing disk space or servers and then dividing that into smaller sections (or accounts) to sell as hosting packages.  This is what even the large hosting companies do, isn’t it?  Big companies with thousands of servers are doing the exact same thing as smaller reseller web hosts that may have only one server or a certain amount of disk space to sell.  So, perhaps it isn’t fair to feel doubtful and wary of the small reseller just because his business is small.

Choosing cheap reseller web hosting for your website may, in fact, be a very wise move.  Some of the large website hosting companies have grown so large that they have become quite impersonal.  It may be difficult to get assistance from these companies if it is needed.  This can affect the success of your website if, for example, you are unable to resolve an issue with your shopping cart and customers are unable to check out with their purchases.

On the other hand, resellers typically have fewer clients than the web hosting company whose services they resell; therefore, they are usually able to provide a superior level of support to clients.  This often personalized level of support may not be evident until you need it, but you will certainly appreciate it when it becomes necessary.

Another benefit of choosing a reseller web host is the money it can save you.  While many larger web hosts do offer specials from time to time, resellers can almost always beat those prices.  And, the lower prices charged by resellers are their regular, everyday prices–not discounts that will only last for your first three or six months of hosting.  Also, because resellers receive a large discount from the hosting company whose services they resell, they are often able to provide clients with more services than their hosting company could provide…and at a lower price!

When selecting a reseller web hosting package, it is best to do some research.  Look at customer reviews of the reseller and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  This will allow you to choose the best reseller host for you.