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  • Building a Web Store on Shoestring Budget in less than Four Hours

  • Thursday, May 12, 2005
  • Effective Web Search with Google's "My Search History" Tool

  • Monday, April 25, 2005
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  • Thursday, April 7, 2005
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  • Tuesday, March 22, 2005
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    Making Money with Affiliate Programs Part III Saturday, December 20, 2003

    Making Money with Affiliate Programs Whether you are a newbie to Internet or a proud owner of a website, affiliate programs are great opportunities for you to make money online. It is an interesting concept that allows affiliates to develop a source of income and the program owners to sell their products more effectively.

    As an affiliate your job is to drive traffics to the program owners site. You get a commission from each sale made to a customer that originated from your marketing efforts.

    Once you become interested in making money through affiliate programs and do some research you will come to know that there are many affiliates, who consistently make thousands of dollars month after month.

    James Martell, who also wrote a handbook on affiliate marketing, claims that he makes over US$ 40K each month from his 30 over niche affiliate sites.

    Phil Wiley lives in a remote area near Australias Great Barrier Reefs but it does not create any barrier for him to make a comfortable living from his online incomes.

    Rosalind Gardner, author of the Super Affiliate Handbook, made over US $400,000 last year alone by promoting different affiliate programs.

    There are numerous examples like these, but the question is do all affiliates make that much of money? Is it truly possible to make your living by promoting affiliate programs?

    The truth is very few of thousands of affiliates are successful in making good amount of money from affiliate marketing.

    If you follow the tips stated below scrupulously your chance to become a super affiliate will increase considerably.


    Try the product first

    Dont just start promoting an affiliate program because they offer handsome commission! Internet marketing is a complex and time consuming process! If you decided to spend your valuable time and ingenious brain in promoting a product, you better check out the product first. Try the product! As a consumer if you feel that the money spent on the product is really worth it, then you probably found a right affiliate program to market.


    Sell products consistent to your websites content

    If the visitors are coming to your site and spending time, that means they like the content of your pages. If you offer them something which is relevant to this content, chances increase dramatically that they will check out that product.

    Write ad articles and text ads for the product

    Dont use banners to promote your chosen affiliate programs! Our eyes are so accustomed to see banners that in very rare case, nowadays, we click on a banner. Use text ads instead! But dont just use the generic ads supplied by the affiliate program owner. Spend sometimes in creating the text ads. While writing the text ads, think how you can relate the content of the page with the text of the ad.

    Write articles about the subject matter of the affiliate product and use links within the article. Studies show that the ad articles have good click through response. You can submit these articles to other websites and create a viral marketing process for your affiliate program.

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    Get a domain name for the affiliate program

    If you are getting result from promoting an affiliate program and would like to get more serious in marketing this particular program, get a domain name for this program and use it to redirect to the link given by you affiliate program owner. Here is why you should do this:

    Many people dont feel comfortable with the idea that you will get a share from the sales made to them. A domain name convinces many of this type of people that you are not merely promoting an affiliate program, rather you have something to do with this product or better yet, some even might consider that you are not making anything out of a sale.


    Redirect a buyer to a page with relevant products

    If you sell a product of your own from a website, once the buyer finishes the purchasing process, i.e. charging credit card, redirect him immediately to a page with products that compliment the product he or she has just purchased. The idea here is to try to sell more products to the same buyer while he is still in the buying mood.

    Build mini sites for the niche products

    One of the best approaches in promoting affiliate programs is to build mini websites dedicated to these programs. Here are the steps you should take:

    Choose a market segment
    Choose niche products for this particular market segment
    Build a content rich mini website specifically oriented to this segment
    Promote related affiliate programs through this website

    Use free materials, programs etc. to attract visitors

    People love free stuffs! Especially, if there are values in them! Many affiliate programs supply free materials like articles, e-books, programs, etc. in order to help affiliates market their products. Use these materials sporadically to lure customers. If you dont get any worthy free materials from the program owners, search for free relevant materials on the Internet. You will be amazed to see quantity of free e-books, articles and other materials that you will be able to dig out!

    Create exit Pop-Up pages with specific and targeted offers

    If the visitor of your site is leaving, why not showing him a page with highly specific targeted product offers? Best idea is to create several pages with highly targeted products for different pages. If the visitor browsed through a certain page, that means the content of the page some how interested him. If he decides to leave the site right after viewing this page, it definitely makes sense to show him an exit pop-up page with products consistent to the content of the page.

    Build a directory of e-books, articles, and affiliate programs

    Information is the number one reason why people spend time online. Its not always easy to create large amount of contents required to satisfy the need of the visitors. Why not use materials created by others for this purpose? Besides, you can also use those materials to promote affiliate programs of your choice. You can add materials to your directory yourself and you can also ask visitors to submit their materials in relevant categories.

    Post Pay per click ad on the most successful affiliate program

    If an affiliate program generates considerable revenue promote this particular program more aggressively by posting pay per click ad for this program.

    Overture and Google Adwords are the best options available for pay per click advertisement campaign.


    Affiliate programs are great way of making money online! However, dont expect an overnight success! Like any other business, here also you require proper planning and persistence. Most super affiliates confess that, in general, it takes one to two years of hard work to become successful in this field. So do your homework before jumping in!

     

    Making Money with Affiliate Programs Part II Tuesday, December 2, 2003

    Making Money with Affiliate Programs In this holiday season online shopping is hotter than ever! According to US Commerce Department online sales continue to grow with a robust 25-27 percent this year over 1992. Online holiday shopping at a rate of 10 percent is also considerably outpacing the 5.7 percent growth of overall retail sales. Goldman Sachs predicts 23 percent of all gift-buying this holiday season will take place online!

    So, if you dont have a product of your own to sell online, how can you profit from this exciting trend?

    One of the finest ways of making money online is to promote other peoples products or services by becoming their affiliates. Affiliate is a term used for a website that drives traffic to another website in exchange for a predetermined commission.

    Thanks to the success of several affiliate programs in the early days of online business, most merchant websites, today, use some kind of affiliate programs to promote their sites and generate sales.

    Considering the sheer numbers of affiliate programs available on the Internet, you may feel overwhelmed. However, if you set some basic criteria, it would be lot easier to find a good program that suits your need.

    Free sign up

    The affiliate program that you are planning to join must be absolutely free. There are way too many good programs available for free, why should you pay for one? Moreover, the programs that require payments to join are mostly multi Level Marketing (MLM) programs. Although, there may be many good MLM programs existing on the Internet, I dont think its a viable option for an average person.

    Good commission

    You deserve handsome compensation for all your hard work! No matter, how you look into it, in most of the cases, promoting a product or service is not an easy job. Since you are doing the uphill struggle of bringing the client to the merchants door, your commission should be real good one. What is an acceptable commission anyway? If you are promoting an information product, dont go for less than 50 percent. For more tangible products and services your bare minimum commission should be 15 percent of the sale. If you are promoting monthly subscription, choose a program that pays a portion of subscription fee as recurring commission to you as long as the client referred by you stays subscribed.

    Two-tier affiliate program

    An affiliate program which pays certain percent as a commission from the sale for bringing in a client and another if that client brings in other clients. Two-tier affiliate programs are more preferable since once a client base is built, it becomes a great source of residual income.

    Quality affiliate tracking system

    The merchant should have a very good and well-organized affiliate sales tracking management software system. You have to be absolutely comfortable with the statistics generated by the affiliate program. The program should show such important aspects as repurchase, if any, by the client referred by you, your second tier affiliates, activities by your second tier clients, etc.
    If you do not feel comfortable with the tracking system provided by a merchant, better stick to the merchants, who use third party affiliate managing system. At least, you will know that a dishonest merchant wont be able to defraud you.

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    Efficient customer support

    You should feel satisfied with the service and support you get from your affiliate program owner. A good program highly values its affiliates and gives priority to its customer support system. As the clients that you are sending to the merchant are primarily your sites visitors, you should be extremely picky about the quality of customer service the program renders. After all, your own sites reputation is also at stake here!

    Promotional materials

    If you are planning to promote an affiliate program, you will need more materials then mere banners. Unfortunately, even many high-end affiliate programs do not carry enough promotional materials to satisfy the need of the affiliates. Promotional material should include: contents to build mini-sites, various ad articles, different kind of text links, product brochures or presentation, etc.

    Commission payment policy

    The affiliate program should have a sort of minimum payment policy, where you can receive commissions if even you have made just one or two sales. A reasonable amount is US $25. Less than that is not viable due to processing costs. Commission should be paid each month. If you are located outside of US, see if the merchant makes payment through Paypal or other similar services or not. For most of the countries checks issued in other countries are not a good option.

    If an affiliate program meets all these above mentioned criteria, you can consider joining in this program. However, to get best result from your efforts, before signing up, you should also consider the following rules:

    You have to like the product you are promoting
    Any salesman will confirm you that this is one of the fundamental rules of selling. If you are selling a product or service you must have confidence in it. If you like the product and will use it yourself gladly, you found a product to promote! Dont waste your time with a product that is not up to your taste!

    Promote a product or service consistent to your websites subject matter
    If your site is all about soccer, you will be better off with products and service related to soccer. If this same site promotes, for example: pesticides, no matter how hard you try your success will be very limited! Before joining in any affiliate program first you should identify who your visitors are, what do they like and which products they will probably buy online. Once you know your niche market its lot easier to find products or services for it.

    Many webmasters think that in order to make money through affiliate programs, all you have to do is to come up with a site and fill up the site with affiliate links. Sooner all later people will click on them. Unfortunately this does not work! Making money through affiliate programs is also a business and like any business you have to have a proper business plan. Only a well prepared business plan followed by its meticulous implementation can bring success to your affiliate endeavor.

     

    Making Money with Affiliate Programs Part I Tuesday, November 18, 2003

    Making Money with Affiliate ProgramsIf you have a website and you are not involved in any of the thousands of affiliate programs available on the Internet, you are loosing great opportunities to make some extra income. As in the case of some top affiliate marketers this extra income might even transform into thousands of dollars. Affiliate program is one of the most effective methods of producing sales second only to direct mail. According to Forrester Research, a marketing research company, in this year 21% of all online sales will be generated from affiliate sites promoting affiliate products.

    If you do your homework right, you too can earn handsomely from the correct use of affiliate programs.

    What is an affiliate program?

    The concept of affiliate program is based on the age-old business practice of referral service. This is quite common in many industries. An attorney, for example, gets a certain percent of commission if he refers a client to another lawyer.

    Back in 1996 Amazon.com started the first widespread use of referral service on the Internet. If a client comes to Amazon.com and buy a product using a link provided by Amazon, from a website which signed affiliate partnership agreement, that site receives 10 to 15% commission from the sale. The Amazon Affiliate Program became so successful that it prompted others to follow the suit. Today, affiliate programs became ubiquitous on the Internet making them one of the primary methods of online marketing of products and services.

    Affiliate Program can be defined as Internet marketing system where a company allows and helps third party websites, called affiliates to post link and refer clients in return for a predetermined flat-fee or percentage-based commission.

    Benefits of affiliate programs

    Affiliate Programs became so popular because as a partnership its a win-win situation for both the program owner and the affiliates. Benefits for program owners include:

    Increase Sales
    The primary reason for most of the companies to adopt an affiliate program is the possibility of boosting sales. In fact, proper implementation of a quality affiliate program is capable of increasing sales dramatically.

    Free promotion
    A successful affiliate program can easily become the largest traffic generator for the company website. Many websites receive major portion of their visitors from their affiliate links. To find suitable websites with required content in order to run a banner or link campaign is time consuming and require large resources; affiliate programs in comparison can resolve this issue often with a far smaller investment.

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    Increase search engine ranking
    Search engines, Google in particular, calculate link popularity as one of the main factors in their ranking algorithm. Backward links from affiliate sites certainly help improving this.

    Branding
    Thanks to its affiliate program Amazon.com banner links can be seen on numerous websites. Popularity of Amazon.com among the newcomers to Internet proves that Amazon.com was successful in creating its online brand name. No doubt, omnipresent visibility of their logo on the affiliate sites definitely had a huge impact on the brand recognition of the Amazon. Offline companies had to spend billions of dollars of advertisement money to get similar results!

    How about the affiliates? What are the benefits they get from an affiliate relationship?

    No product or service to carry
    Online business with your own product or service might be rewarding, but it requires substantial investment from your part. With carefully chosen affiliate programs you can have your online business without the requirement of having your own products.
    The investment is low as all you need is a website.

    No need to have a merchant account
    Since you dont carry your own products or services you do not have to go through the hassle of having a merchant account to cater your clients. Your affiliate program owner will do everything. All you have to do is supply clients through your designated link.

    Possibility of residual income

    Many programs pay you a commission from the sales made to the customers generated from affiliates, who have signed up as an affiliate following your link. This kind of affiliate system is called 2-tier system.
    Visitor tracking system allows affiliate programs to pay you a commission when same visitor from your website makes repeat purchase.
    Some affiliate programs that promote monthly or yearly subscription services pay a commission each month as long as customer referred by you stays subscribed.

    Complement you website with added products and services
    If your site is dedicated to certain products or services, there must be other stuffs that go well together with your own products. Its a good idea to seek out viable affiliate products of these items and promote through your site. Your visitors will love this and this will help building loyalty among your visitors.

    Have new contents for your site
    many affiliate programs supply you with valuable marketing materials. Some of these materials can be nice addition to your site content bringing further value to your website.

    Various Affiliate programs

    There are two ways of running an affiliate program:

    The company owns and handles the program itself, using certain software.

    The company uses third party administered affiliate programs.

    The reasons why many companies prefer to hand over management of their affiliate programs include technical aspects, cost factor and human factors.

    Companies do not have to spend money on developing, running and updating the software.
    Proven technology allows companies to concentrate on their job of selling their products and services.
    Many prospective affiliates prefer third party managed programs, because they rightfully ponder, in this case the program owners have less chance to cheat their affiliates.

    Find below a list of some leading third party affiliate program administrators:

    http://www.befree.com
    http://www.linkshare.com
    http://www.cj.com
    http://www.clickbank.com

    However, this does not mean that you should avoid company run affiliate programs. On the contrary, some of the most successful and best affiliate programs are run by the owners.

    If you find an affiliate program that suits your requirement and you feel that the company is a reputable one, by any means you should give it a try!

     

    Promote your website Part IV Monday, November 3, 2003
    Promote your website using Newsgroups

    Promote your website using NewsgroupsAt present there are over 3.3 billion pages indexed by Google, and that definitely does not cover the entire Internet. With so many competitors around, you sure have to use every conceivable method available to promote your website. Newsgroups can be very powerful tools in your web promotion endeavor if you use them actively.

    What is a Newsgroup?

    A newsgroup is a message board on the Internet where users come to discuss topics of mutual interest. Each newsgroup is dedicated to a particular subject of interest and consists of messages posted by participants. You can find several ongoing discussions surrounding various topics within a single newsgroup. These topics are call threads. As a user you can start a thread, post messages to a thread and make responds to other postings.

    Before the Internet era, the way you know it now, back in eighties and early nineties people used to connect to electronic bulletin boards (bbs) through modems and post text messages for others to read and answer. Usenet Newsgroups was started as a collection of these bulletin boards. Along with the Internet, Newsgroups have also started to grow rapidly. Thanks to the Interface introduced by Deja News in 1995 use of Newsgroups became simple and convenient, which also gave enough impetus to this growth.

    Today, Usenet discussion forums or Newsgroups indexed by Google comprise over 800 million messages, which is around a terabyte of information! It is calculated that over 10 million people have regular access to Newsgroups!

    Each newsgroup is formed with a certain purpose. This is described in its charter at the time it is started. Normally every Newsgroup has its own single subject. However there could be many Newsgroups dedicated to one subject.

    There are tens of thousands of newsgroups on every subject you can possibly imagine. The subjects in Newsgroups are hierarchically structured. Some of them are moderated, means somebody controls the postings, most dont.

    How to use Newsgroups?

    Since there are so many newsgroups, whatever your interest is you will most likely find a newsgroup which will suit you. Although, most email readers have built-in features to subscribe Newsgroups the most convenient way to read newsgroups today is to use Google Search. Once you are on the search page of the Google, Click on the Groups from the menu. This will take you to Groups search page with a directory of Newsgroups under the headline Post and read comments in Usenet discussion forums. The most common subdirectories for businesses are located in alt, biz and misc. For example: If you are in import and export business you might try alt.business.imort-export, which has several groups within it. Run a search using a keyword related to your online business that you would like to promote from the groups search page of Google. The result will appear chronologically, the most recent one being at the top. Check out the most relevant Newsgroups from the results. If your search produces a very big list of results, try the advanced search option. Try reducing the time frame of postings. By default Google searches within all messages posted from 1981.

    For really worthwhile information Ill suggest to use moderated groups. Most Newsgroups which are not moderated easily fill up with spam and you really have to wade through them to find something interesting.

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    Did you notice that Google has a new paid service under the name Google Answers? For a fee Google nominated researchers will get answers to your hard to find questions. The service is located at http://answers.google.com. If you go through the questions that are already asked, you will be amazed to see that by searching newsgroups you will find answers to many of them without paying a dime. Newsgroups are indeed a gold mine of information!

    Benefits of using Newsgroups

    As an online business you can rip varieties of benefits from effective use of Newsgroups.

    Establish yourself as an expert of your chosen field People will prefer doing business with you if they know that you are an expert in your field. Post important and relevant information in your chosen Newsgroup, answer to the questions posted. Very soon, people from the Newsgroup will start considering you as an expert and you will be amazed to see quantity of new visitors checking out your site.

    Conduct market survey
    Newsgroups can be a great source of marketing information. By asking questions in relevant Newsgroups you can find a way of figuring out what people think about your product, your website, etc. Get new clients
    There are Newsgroups, which are formed with the sole purpose of various announcements and promotions. Prudent use of these Newsgroups along with your relevant Newsgroups will definitely increase your site traffic and get new clients.

    Promote your site
    In relevant groups you can post announcement about your site launch, press releases, product information, etc. Participation in the discussions in your subject matter with your signature file, which should include your website address, will help getting new visitors and increase the quantity of backward links to your website.

    Get answers to your questions
    You cant be an expert in every thing! Often, you will need answers to various questions. Ask them in relevant Newsgroups along with your signature file. Not only you will have answers to your questions, along with this you will also promote your site.

    Make friends
    Newsgroups can be a great place to find like-minded friends and partners.

    Posting dos and donts

    You have to be very careful with what you post in a Newsgroup. Before making your first post, go through the FAQ and posting rules of the Newsgroup and read some of the postings. You want to position yourself as an expert not an idiot! Some Newsgroups users are pretty aggressive. If they feel that you are spamming their precious Newsgroup you will be flamed in no time.

    Here are some basic rules:

    Don't post commercials, advertisements or press releases; unless the newsgroup specifically mentions that it endorses these things.
    While posting a respond, stick to the original topic.
    Quote only the portion of the message you are responding not the whole message.
    Dont cross post. This means, do not post same messages in several relevant Newsgroups.
    Never post unrelated messages to Newsgroups. This is considered as spamming!
    While posting a message be specific and concise in the subject line.
    Post your signature file with each and every message. This is important for your web promotion!
    Check your spelling and grammar before posting a message.

    The idea is to make valuable contribution to the Newsgroups and by doing so at the same time promote your online business. Ask questions that you perceive useful to you and others. Post responds to messages, which are informative, thought-provoking and of high quality. Soon you will build credibility among your fellow Newsgroup members and start receiving a flow of loyal customers.

     

    Grow your business using B2B emarketplace Part III Wednesday, October 15, 2003
    Increase Company Productivity

    Increase Company ProductivityAfter years of hard work, finally your business started to pick up. You are selling more products then ever! You have lined up a good number of suppliers and buyers. Things have never been better than now. Except one thing! With rising sales your overhead and supply chain expenses are also sky-rocketing. Your profit margin is no longer the same as it used to be! You feel that you are in a limbo! How to increase productivity? How to cut costs without giving up sales? Sounds familiar to you? Well, your company is not alone! According to IDC, a research firm, while interviewed, overwhelming majority of the company executives claimed that their biggest concern is declining profit margins.

    Companies, in order to stay competitive, must find solutions to increase efficiency in business operations and control costs. Is there a solution to this ubiquitous problem?

    Remember Dorothy from the children classic Wizard of the Oz? She had to go through numerous obstacles in her quest to find a way to get back to Kansas, her home. Only to find out that the silver shoes that she was wearing from the very first day since the cyclone brought her to the Land of Oz could have taken her back home, all she had to do was to knock the heels together three times and command the shoes to carry her wherever she wished to go.

    Similar to this story, solutions to these corporate problems are widely available right under your nose, only you as a company executive have to overcome the fear of new technologies and adopt them to your own good.

    B2B exchanges or emarketplaces are capable of solving many key problems that corporations are facing today. Emarketplaces can provide immense opportunities to automate supply chain process, increase operational efficiency, reduce overhead costs and expand market at a minimal cost.

    Using emarketplace effectively

    Two primary factors of company productivity are Revenue Increase and Cost Cutting. Both are achievable if a company seriously decides to incorporate emarketplace features in all aspects of business operations. That means if as a company you want to reap all the benefits of emarketplaces, you have to commit yourself seriously.

    Become a member

    Once you find an emarketplace that suits your requirement, the first thing what you have to do is to register and become a member. Most emarketplaces have different membership packages. Although, to check out the emarketplace whether it is viable for your business or not you might start with the free membership package, but once you are satisfied with your selection, to use the emarketplace to your advantage you should choose the package with most features and functions.

    Integrate your products to e-catalog

    If you are a supplier, this is a very important step to take. Unless you have thousands of products to sell, this should not be a difficult task. All emarketplaces use either a form or wizard-based, not-so-complex and user-friendly product adding tool. Since e-catalogs that emarketplaces use are industry standard, once you aggregated you products, same information you will be able to use in other e-catalogs, emarketplaces and even in your own website. Apart from your own buyers other prospective customers from the emarketplace community are able to view your products in the e-catalog, which in turn will bring you new contacts and sales.

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    Create products for sale offers

    You should create sales offer of your primary products that you carry most of the time and post them on the emarketplace. Many emarketplaces have options to sell products with different procedures. You can make offer to sell access inventories through dynamic market, also called auction, you can make hot offers with time limit, etc.
    This is an extra sales channel in the beginning, which might grow into your primary one!

    Involve your buyers and sellers

    If you would like to use an emarketplace most effectively, you have to get your suppliers and buyers on board too. Supply chain management solution that usually comes with an emarketplace allows you to reduce operational costs significantly.

    Encourage your buyers to send request for quote for a product through the inbuilt system of the emarketplace.
    Make strict rules within your company to send all quotes exclusively through emarketplace.
    Ask your buyers to send Purchase Orders to your company via emarketplace.
    Bill all your clients using invoicing system of the emarketplace.
    Manage shipping and handling though emarketplaces.
    Convince your suppliers to use the same emarketplace so that even as a buyer you can get the benefits of a B2B exchange.

    Complete adoption of an emarketplace will help a company gain numerous benefits. The following figures taken from various research notes emphasize the importance of e-marketplace in todays business world. Thanks to emarketplace, companies can reduce purchase order processing cost from US $75 to less than US $10.

    By automating sales and customer support processes companies can lower overhead costs up to 25 30% easily.
    Companies also can reduce more than five percent of their maintenance, repair and operation by incorporating e-business solutions, which are integral parts of any emarketplace.
    Business process automation using B2B emarketplace helps companies decreasing of document errors from 20 percent to less than one percent.
    B2B Emarketplace solutions are great opportunities

    The famous inventor Thomas Edison once told, Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. Company executives are by no means afraid of hard work, but unfortunately many of them have colossal fear of high technology and because of this reluctant to explore new Internet-based technologies to their advantage. If you are one of them, be assured that knowledge required to adopt emarketplace to your business and manage it properly is easy to learn and implement.

    Grow your business using B2B emarketplace Part II Wednesday, October 1, 2003
    Selecting the right emarketplace

    Selecting the right emarketplaceAlthough, IT spending has been staying flat for the last several years, corporate spending in e-business is gaining significant ground and at present surpasses 20 percent of overall IT budget. This means, more and more businesses are undertaking ecommerce initiatives, and as a result increasing sales, streamlining business processes and dramatically boosting productivity.

    Most experts agree that average business, which is slow in adopting e-business applications, risks loosing its competitive edge to their more progressive rivals.

    Emarketplaces provide with a great opportunity for small to medium size companies to test online business for a minimal risk. This is due to the factor that the e-business applications that come along with an emarketplace membership package are prohibitively expensive to develop in-house by most companies, and require large professional workforce to operate. As an example: product content development with required attributes, suitable for e-business, itself might feel like a daunting task for most offline companies.

    So, as a company, what should be your first step in starting e-business through emarketplaces?

    Naturally, out of hundreds of emarketplaces available today, you have to find one that matches all your requirements.

    Choosing right kind of emarketplace

    In best case scenario, if yours is a large enough company, you should build your private emarketplace with all the necessary features specific to your business. The potential of having your own emarketplace is amazing!

    Ecommerce will add value to your existing business transactions
    Your present suppliers will be able to post most updated information on their products via e-catalog and their storefront
    You can build community from your present buyers and supplier, or invite members on the Internet
    Real time marketplace will allow you to take quick buying and selling decision
    Both buyers and sellers can contact you through Instant Messaging System
    Your entire supply chain process can be managed from one place
    You can issue real time purchase tenders with either limited access only to your community members or open to public
    Sell your stock lots through online auction
    Brand you emarketplace and establish your company as a serious online player within your Industry

    However, as I mentioned earlier, if you are not a very big company, you will probably be better off with a membership in an established emarketplace. If you are a manufacturer, wholesaler or a buyer of certain industry specific products or services, your best choice would be a vertical emarketplace that caters specially your industry. For example: if you buy or sell fish, you should look for an emarketplace that deals with this product only. Another thing that you should keep in mind is how geographically limited your business is. If you buy and sell fish within the locality of your state or region, if available, get an emarketplace that works in your region.

    Totally different story, if you carry large number of products from different industries; for you a horizontal marketplace that cater a range of industries is a better choice. If you are an international trader involved in import or export, you should select a global emarketplace, which has members from the countries you deal with.

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    Features that are must

    A good emarketplace amasses various features in order to facilitate smooth transactions of business deals. However, there are some key attributes that are absolutely necessary for any emarketplace to become successful; and as a prospective member you should look for these features and characteristics while choosing an emarketplace for yourself.

    Product catalog based on an industry-standard classification system
    While it might not look so important from the surface; to have accurate, well-defined and timely-updated product content is extremely crucial for any online business. Since you have to integrate your product catalog to the aggregated electronic catalog of the emarketplace, which could be a very complex task, you should make sure that the classification system that they have is widely used online; and if necessary you can use same product content with other emarketplaces or e-procurement applications. The best option, as I believe, is based on The Universal Standard Products and Services Classification (UNSPSC), which is a global coding system that classifies products and services. This categorization scheme covers the broadest collection of industries and commodities available today, and designed to facilitate e-commerce transactions by providing geography-independent common nomenclature system.

    Product search capability within the marketplace and e-catalog
    Members of the emarketplace should be able to locate any product or service, whether in the auctions, marketplaces, or in the catalog with ease. Advanced search function should allow finding required items using precise query.

    Supply chain process, i.e. request for quote, quotation, purchase order, billing system, etc.
    Efficient supply chain management is the number one strategic priority for many businesses. In 2001, Cisco System alone had to write off US $2.5 billion in excess inventories due to poor management of its numerous outsourcing contractors.
    E-marketplaces can help streamlining your supply chain process if the required features are embedded in their system.

    Directory of members
    Usually most emarketplaces incorporate a searchable directory of their members. The members get an added opportunity of creating new business relations and increasing sales thanks to this feature.

    Product content adding and editing interface
    In order to make product content adding and maintaining easier for sellers, the marketplace must have an uncomplicated tool. The tool could be a wizard-based combination of simple forms. To integrate larger catalogs speedily and efficiently the emarketplace should have XML based interface.

    Ability to promote products and services
    The process of posting an offer for sale of a product or a service on the marketplace should be simple and easy but sophisticated enough to create dynamic offer, offer with time limit, variable pricing based on quantity, etc.

    Apart from the above mentioned functionalities that facilitate conducting e-business, other key characteristics of a quality e-marketplace should include:

    Simplicity An emarketplace should be easy to learn and use.
    Large Community The quantity of members should be big enough, so that new participants can expand their business.
    Flexibility Emarketplace functions should be flexible enough to modify or add with new features when necessary.
    Neutrality The emarketplace should be an unbiased venue for both sellers and buyers. No member should have any privilege at the expense of others. Providing an open and transparent market for all the participants is an important constituent of the value proposition of an emarketplace.

    Cost of doing business through e-marketplace

    In general, thanks to the large member base, e-marketplaces charge a reasonable subscription fee if you would like to participate in it. Many emarketplaces also charge a nominal fee for each trade made using their facilities. Other costs involved, that you should consider, are internal workforce needed to handle business via emarketplace, catalog integration and maintaining, etc. In any case, the cost of doing business through emarketplaces is negligible for most businesses compare to the gains they make.

    Get your partners involved

    If you just build a corporate website and dont spend required time and money to promote, it wont bring any business. Same goes for emarketplace! Mere participation in an emarketplace also will not produce any significant benefit if you dont convince your existing buyers and suppliers to work with you through your chosen emarketplace.

    Grow your business using B2B Emarketplace - Part I. Monday, September 15, 2003

    Grow your business using B2B Emarketplace - Part I.If you are a small to medium size company and selling or planning to sell products and services over the Net and still did not try out emarketplaces, you are simply loosing a great opportunity!

    Research firm eMarketer predicts that worldwide B2B ecommerce revenues will surpass US$ 1.4 trillion by the end of 2003. In the United States alone revenues will total US$ 721 billion. By 2004, the US B2B ecommerce revenues are expected to reach US$ 1.01 trillion and studies show that a significant portion of these transactions will be conducted through emarketplaces.

    What is an Emarketplace?

    In a broader sense, business to business emarketplace is an online platform where buyers and sellers come to communicate, collaborate and make business transactions. Emarketplace caters a large number of participant companies as a community. The main objective of an emarketplace is to create a venue, filled with features that allow members to efficiently conduct significant portion of business processes on the Net. Emarketplaces are also known as B2B exchanges.

    Types of Emarketplaces

    There are varieties of emarketplaces available on the Internet to suit your company's specific need.

    Public: These emarketplaces are open to all companies. Virtually, anybody can become a member and conduct business through these marketplaces.

    Private: Membership is restricted and owners of the marketplace decide according to which criteria they will select participants. For example: a large trading company can have its own emarketplace limited to its buyers or suppliers only.

    Horizontal: If the emarketplace works with a large numbers of products and services from different industries, it is called a horizontal marketplace.

    Vertical: Industry specific emarketplaces are called vertical markets. An emarketplace, working solely with suppliers and buyers of cars is an example of this kind of marketplace.

    Can your company benefit from an Emarketplace?

    Whether you are primarily a buyer or a supplier, participation in emarketplace can generate enormous benefits to your company - both in cost savings and productivity increase.

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    Benefits that you can have as a buyer

    Automate the purchasing procedure
    Emarketplaces allow you to send request for quotes to a prospective supplier, receive quotes, send purchase orders and receive invoices within the marketplace system. You can virtually consolidate all your procurement processes in one single place. This process of automation brings significant efficiency to you and saves your transaction processing cost. According to Aberdeen Group, a research company, thanks to B2B procurement systems, businesses can reduce these processing costs up to 70%.

    Comparison shopping at its best
    Since you can see all the suppliers of a particular product, that you are planning to buy, in one place, it is easy for you to see which one among the suppliers suits you best in terms of quality, delivery time, geographical location, costs etc.

    Reduce sourcing time cycle
    Most emarketplaces allow you to select multiple offers from different suppliers and create purchase orders in one shot and send. Since you handle all your procurement related correspondence from a consolidated working page, you can see right away answers to requests for quote, invoices, etc. This helps you react instantly and reduce you time in document processing.

    Community participation
    You can receive valuable feedbacks from other fellow buyers, receive industry-related information, build new partnerships and use the networking ability of a community.

    Real time access to current product information
    Current information of a product is vital for an accurate buying decision. 24 hours access to supplier's catalog helps you getting most up-to-date information any time you need it.

    Control rogue spending
    Consolidated and automated procurement and approval method stops maverick buying in a company.

    Benefit that you can have as a seller

    New sales channel
    By becoming a member of an emarketplace, you open a low cost, highly functional and easy-to-use sales channel for your company. You expose your company to a new targeted audience that otherwise would have been untapped to you.

    Low customer acquisition cost
    Your mere presence in the emarketplace might bring you new customers. Since the buyers come to emarketplace themselves your cost of getting customers through this channel is relatively low in comparison to other traditional channels.

    Improve customer service
    Ability to have constant interaction through the emarketplace allows you to serve your customers better. You can track the whole ordering process from payment to delivery and bring greater efficiency in customer service.

    Efficient information sharing method
    When needed, you can instantly update your catalog and inform your customers about changes. Whether you are launching a new product or having a web seminar, through emarketplace you can share the information more efficiently.

    Reduce supply chain cost
    According to eMarketer, automated supply chain process through emarketplaces can reduce your overhead costs 20% to 40%.

    You may ask, if participation in an emarketplace is so beneficial, why companies are not flocking to emarketplaces.

    The slower adoption can be blamed on various inadvertent factors:
    Many companies had fall short to generate significant sales from their own websites and look at emarketplaces with a dose of skepticism. But as studies show ecommerce endeavors fail, mainly, due to lack of proper planning and marketing, as many site managers take the attitude that build-it-and- they- will-come.

    Many conservative suppliers claim that their business depends on close relationship with local buyers. In reality, you can also get access to local untapped market through emarketplaces. Another aspect - you can bring efficiency to your business by co-adopting an emarketplace along with your buyers.

    Many elderly executives are not very tech-savvy and afraid of adopting new technologies considering them too complex. In reality, e-business is virtual implementation of real life business processes and not very difficult to embrace.

    Fear of price shopping by buyers is another factor, why suppliers are reluctant to use emarketplaces. The ability of emarketplace to emphasize all characteristics of the product in product content and demonstrate buyer-specific pricing should eliminate this fear.

    Many, mistakenly, consider that participation cost in emarketplace is very high and will hurt their bottom line. The expenses related to emarketplace membership are, usually, a mere fraction of what you can save from the use of its different features.

    What to look in an Emarketplace?

    As an online venue, where participants expect to conduct substantial part of their business processes, emarketplace has a large range of useful features:

    Product catalog based on an industry-standard classification system
    Product search capability within the marketplace and e-catalog
    Buyers and sellers search capabilities
    Supply chain process, i.e. request for quote, quotation, purchase order, billing system, etc.
    Directory of members
    Shipment tracking
    Simple system of adding and editing products
    Simple offer posting system
    Ability to promote products with special offers, sales, and discount

    Apart from these, some emarketplaces boast other interesting features like auction and reverse auction, new product listing notification, business forum, XML interface, Internal messaging system. Naturally, implementation of these features may vary significantly emarketplace to emarketplace.

    Where to look for Emarketplace?

    The best place to find an extensive list of emarketplaces is the B2B directory site: http://www.bocat.com.

    The open directory project DMOZ has a good list of emarketplaces. However, not all listings in both of these places are, in reality, emarketplaces. Some of them are simple trade boards. This list is located at http://dmoz.org/Business/E-Commerce/Marketplaces/

    Yahoo! directory is not organized well enough to locate emarketplaces. They are scattered under the subcategories: Vertical marketplace builders, Trade directories and even Trade.

    Forbes magazine has a quality list of many B2B companies including some emarketplaces. You will find the list at: http://www.forbes.com/bow/b2b/main.jhtml

    To be continued in next issue: Selecting the right Emarketplace.

    How to get rid of new Sobig.F virus? Saturday, August 30, 2003

    How to get rid of new Sobig.F virus?As you know, this time the virus under the name Sobig.F has wreaked quite havoc! No doubt, many of us have suffered from this recent virus outbreak.

    According to an online poll conducted by CNN 32% of respondents were infected with this malicious virus. At the pick, each of every 17 emails contained sobig.F! Internet service provider AOL says it scanned 40.5 million emails and found the virus in more than half of them. Sobig accounted for 98 percent of all viruses found in these emails.

    What is Sobig.F virus?

    This is a worm type of virus. Which means it is an executable program that installs enhancement to your Windows operating system. The F implies that it is the sixth of the family of Sobig viruses. The first one was launched in the beginning of this year. The latest attack was started on August 19.

    According to some experts, Sobig.F was first posted to a porn Usenet group and spread from there. It is timed to deactivate itself on September 10. The pre-built deactivation mechanism itself is a worrisome factor. Most experts think this means there are more to come!

    How it works?

    Sobig.F comes along with an e-mail with subject headers like Your details, Thank you!, Re: Thank you!, Re: Details, Re: Re: My details, Re: Approved, Re: Your application, Re: Wicked screensaver or Re: That movie. The body of the message is quite short and usually contains either "See the attached file for details" or "Please see the attached file for details."

    Once the file is opened, Sobig.F resends itself using a built-in mailing program to e-mail addresses from the infected computer. As a senders address it shows one of the e-mails randomly selected from the computer's address book.

    The worm was also supposed to attempt to retrieve an URL from a predetermined list of 20 master servers on a certain date and time. The content of that URL was to be downloaded and executed on the infected machines. Luckily those servers were identified right away and shut down.

    How to protect yourself against it?

    If your computer is infected or you have doubts, first thing you should do is to check and clean up your computer from this virus. Although, it is set to deactivate on September 10, which means it will no longer multiply itself, however, left untouched, it might attempt to update itself, once the newer version of the virus comes out.

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    Suggestion One

    1. If you do not have latest version of anti-viruses installed, go to the Symantec’s following page.
    2. Down load the Sobig.F removal tool for free of charge.
    3. Install and run it by strictly following the steps described on the page.

    Suggestion Two

    Download the latest security patches for your version of Windows and install them.

    Suggestion Three

    If you are using Microsoft Outlook, follow the steps below to stop them appearing in your inbox:

    Open Outlook
    Click on Tools from main menu
    Choose Rules Wizard from the drop down menu
    On the page Apply changes to this folder: Click on New
    Select Start creating a rule from Templates
    Choose Move messages based on content
    Click on specific words link from the box at the bottom
    A small window will appear, add each and every phrase scrupulously from the list below:

    Re: Thank you!
    Thank you!
    Your details
    Re: Details
    Re: Re: My details
    Re: Approved
    Re: Your application
    Re: Wicked screensaver
    Re: That movie
      your_document.pif
    document_all.pif
    thank_you.pif
    your_details.pif
    details.pif
    document_9446.pif
    application.pif
    wicked_scr.scr
    movie0045.pif

    Once finished click on OK to close the window.
    Click on the link specified at the same box
    Open a new folder by clicking on the New button under the name Virus Spam
    Click on OK
    Click on Finish
    From now on all emails with the above mentioned phrases and attachments will be moved to the Virus Spam folder.
    All you have to do is delete the emails, which will appear there.

    A few more cautions:

    Dont open any executable attachment in an email, unless you are hundred percent sure that this is a legitimate file that you have been expecting. Install an anti-virus program and update it on time, at the end, this might be the best possible solution to protect our computers from these ugly online creatures!

    How to sell your products online? Wednesday, August 20, 2003

    How to sell your products online?E-commerce is gaining pace! Research firm eMarketer predicts that 2003 will see online sales reaching US $58.2 billion excluding travel. According to Forrester Research, another reputable research company, business to consumer e-commerce will hit US $230 billion by the year 2008. While offline retail sales are staggering and will continue to do so in near term, online retail sales will show a hefty 19 percent consecutive year over year growth! And by the same year, two third of all US households will buy some kind of products and services online. In 2003 alone 97 million consumers will make some kind of purchases through the Internet. If you are selling products and services offline, you should seriously consider hopping on to the e-commerce bandwagon, or risk loosing significant portion of your business to your more proactive competitors!

    Is it difficult to start selling products or services online?

    May be, in the beginning of Internet era, this was a daunting task, but today, with proper planning it is fairly easy.

    Choose the products or services that are viable to sell over the Internet
    Build an online presence
    Create an online product catalog
    Choose payment methods
    Promote

    Select products or services to sell

    Although, some products are easier to sell online, contrary to popular believe, most of the products and services are, actually, marketable on the Internet. At present, books, electronics, information and travel related products are selling better online. But, that does not mean that there is no room for other products or services. As a matter of fact, you can sell just about anything over the Internet! It depends more on the market segment you choose, and how good you are in marketing. As you know, traditional items that you can get in nearest grocery store were not doing very well on the Internet. However, that is going to change very soon! According to Forrester Research many of todays slow categories are poised to significant growth as oppose to early online sales leaders like travel and electronics, which will experience market maturity and slower growth. Prediction is:

    Food and beverage category will grow at a rate of 49 percent, reaching $18.2 billion by 2007. The home products category will grow by 42 percent over five years, from $7.3 billion in 2002 to $42.0 billion in 2007. Flowers, cards, and gifts will grow by 41 percent, from $951 million in 2002 to $5.3 billion in 2007.

    Thats not all! By the year 2008, todays best selling product books will have a mere 3 percent share of total business to consumer online sales.

    So, if your products and services can generate offline sales there should not be any problem in selling these items online.

    Build online presence

    You can choose to build an e-commerce website either yourself by hiring required experts, i.e. web programmers or by appointing a website developing company to do the job for you. In both of the cases, you have to be prepared to spend a significant amount of money. E-commerce site is a very broad terminology! Depending on you demand, it can cost you from a modest US $800 to any where over a million US dollar! Thats not all! You have to be prepared to spare considerable time on it, as well. Writing the technical scope, choosing the appropriate design for your site and creating proper content for your site will take a lot of your time. And there is no guarantee that you will do everything right!

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    Thats why, if you are new to e-commerce and do not want to spend a fortune in your first endeavor, you should think about making your online presence by choosing one of the available, on the Internet, Web Store services. There are enormous advantages of using these services:

  • You can build one for a fraction of the cost, needed to create an e-commerce website.
  • You can choose the design of your web store from numerous available templates.
  • Simple editor allows you creating your web store all by yourself.
  • You can be up and running within days.
  • You can choose a merchant account from the one offered by the service provider.

    There are many Web Store service providers on the Internet like Yahoo! Store, Bigstep, Rusbiz, etc. Compare and choose the one, which best suits your requirement. As an added advantage, some of the Web Store service providers will integrate your store with a shopping mall or e-marketplace free of charge. This will instantly expose your web store to a large targeted prospective customer audience.

    Create an online catalog

    If you sell only one or couple of products and do not add products or services often, you dont require an online catalog. However, if you have a product line of over 10 products and you constantly add or change products, you should consider a web store with the facility of an online product catalog. This feature of a web store service allows rapid developing and maintaining of you electronic catalog without spending large sums on creating one by yourself.

    Look for a web store service provider who offers wizard or form base product adding method to the electronic catalog and use some kind of standard product classification codes. At later stage, if you choose to sell products through e-marketplaces, this will allow you to integrate your products to e-marketplaces and make sales offers with ease.

    Choose a payment method

    If you are planning to sell ebooks, reports, whitepapers etc. I would suggest you to consider using clickbank’s marketplace. That way, you dont have to worry about getting a credit card merchant account.

    Around 90 percent of all sales transaction occur online are by credit card payments. To accept credit card payment over the Internet, you must first have a merchant account. A merchant account allows a vendor to process credit card transactions. If you built a web store online with one of the web store service providers, you will see that they offer gateways to one or several merchant account providers and have partnership with them. In general, you get a better deal with them. However, as charges vary significantly from one merchant account provider to another, make sure you shop around before committing yourself to one.

    Promote you site

    To sell your products through your site, you must draw traffic. There are number of ways of promoting your site on the Internet. This includes:

    Search engine submissions
    Adding your site to different online directories
    Opt-in email campaign
    Link exchange
    Banner and link ads

    In you effort to promote your site, you should combine as many offline and online promotional methods you can come up with. The more traffic you can generate the better chance you have of selling more products from your Web Store.

  • Lottery Scam, what it is and how to avoid it? Thursday, July 31, 2003

    Lottery Scam, what it is? Internet scams and frauds are on the rise! The quantity of scam emails with various fraud schemes any email account receives today is simply overwhelming! There is this infamous Nigerian 419 scam, which is by far the most widely circulated one. I wrote about it in one of our ezine articles not long ago. You can read about it here! And there are many other scams like Lottery, Letter of Credit, money transfer, black money conversion, real estate, fraudulent order and the list goes on and on. Looking at my daily doze of scam letters, looks like, the lottery scam seams to be gaining popularity among the con artists. This scam is similar to other forward fee schemes, where the goal of the con artist is to persuade an unsuspected victim to send an advance payment for some dubious offers that the swindlers never plan to fulfill.

    Email Lottery Scam

    The subject of the emails from an unknown source to you will, probably show, something similar to, Congratulation! You have own a lottery. With minor variations the text in most of these letters is virtually identical.

    The letter, usually, claims to be issued by a Lottery Company based in some countries like The Netherlands, Switzerland, England, Canada or the USA.

    And then it says that you are one of many people randomly chosen from all over the world to participate in a lottery of a very large sum. You along with some others have won this lottery. You will be asked to contact them immediately to claim your prize money. Most certainly, the letter will also warn you to keep this as a secret and will specify that the offer has a time limit.

    If you contact them after receiving this letter; there are number of variation how the thugs will try to swindle you. They are quite imaginative and sometimes very innovative in their endeavors.

    In general the idea is you have to pay a fee before the lottery company can release the amount to you. The pretexts are, usually, an investigation company has to make sure that you are the right person who won the lottery, as a foreigner you have to pay a tax before you can get your prize and there is a processing and handling fee that has to be paid before hand, etc.

    Dont think that these dubious offers are only sent by emails. People received them by regular mails, by direct phone calls and even by SMS.

    Phone Call Lottery Scam

    One fine morning you may receive a call from a person, claiming to be a lawyer from a prestigious law farm, and will tell you that you have won a foreign lottery; that a processing fee is due before the prize money can be released to you. The seniors are most likely to be the victims of these telemarketers. If you are located in the USA, most likely, the person will introduce himself as a Canadian lawyer and will inform you as if you have won a Canadian Provincial Lottery.

    Lottery Scam by SMS

    You may even receive a SMS message advising that you have won a foreign lottery. You will be instructed to log onto a website and enter a login and password, which would be provided to you in the message. The site will have the same look and feel of a legitimate lottery site, but in fact, it is a copy site created by the scammers. The URL address will have a very minor, virtually, unnoticeable difference. Once you log in and see for yourself that you have really own the lottery, you will be asked to forward a gaming tax of US $100 to US $500 before you claim your prize.

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    How to identify these scams and avoid being conned?

    The number one motto that you should follow is if it is too good to be true, then probably, it is indeed too good to be true! There is no way you can win a lottery, in what you have never participated!

    The followings are the signs of probable scam offers, you will be better off if you avoid them scrupulously:

    • Any offer, where you have to send cash upfront to redeem you prize.
    • Any offer of a substantial percentage of a large sum of money to be transferred into your account, in return for your "discretion" or "confidentiality";
    • Requests for signed and stamped, blank letterhead or invoices, or for bank account information;
    • Requests for payment in advance of transfer taxes or other fees;
    • Statements that your name was provided to the soliciting party either by someone you do not know or by "a very reliable contact;"
    • Unsolicited calls asking if you would like to be in a "Lottery pool";
    • Mail notifying you that you have already won a substantial sum of money.

    What to sell on the Internet? Tuesday, July 15, 2003

    What to sell on the Internet? The phenomenal growth of ecommerce lures more and more people to dream about starting an online business. The question that bothers many and restrains them from realizing their dream is what to sell on the Internet. If you have spent sometime on the Internet trying to figure out what product or service you should choose to sell online, you must have noticed that people are selling every conceivable product and service over the Internet. Contrary to popular belief, even big ticket items are also selling on the Internet very well. But, nevertheless, it is not very easy for a newbie to find a product rather quickly and start marketing online.

    If you are having difficulty in finding a good tangible product to market on the Internet or afraid to manage all the hassles of shipping and handling you may seriously consider selling information online.

    According to data, most people browse through the Internet in search of some sorts of information that they require. Survey conducted by Neilsen Media Research shows that Books and Information Category tops the highest selling product and service on the Internet with a significant margin in comparison to other categories. This makes information a natural product for sale on the Internet. Information sells online in the formats of e-books, articles, reports, data, whitepapers etc. If you have expertise in any specific field, you may consider selling your ideas in one of the mentioned format.
    Check out Clickbanks marketplace to get a good idea what people are selling. You will be truly amazed by the scope of ideas!

    Although, information is the most sought after product on the Internet; that does not mean it is an easy-to-sell product. For one thing there are tons of free information available on the Internet, and the second is people on the Internet are not very willing to pay for information. This is the reason why you have to be very careful in choosing the right product to market online.

    People will buy your information product, if it is:

    A particular knowledge that they crave
    It makes their life easier, i.e. saves time
    It teaches them some subject that they would like to learn.

    Which are the products that fall in these categories?

     

    Expert advises, tips and ideas in a niche field:

    Body building tips, dieting secrets, dating ideas, stock trading secrets, Internet marketing ideas are examples of this category.

    Trend forecasts:

    Businesses spend fortunes to have a better understanding of specific trends. If you have enough expertise to predict a trend of a specific field, i.e. high technology, stock market, Internet, etc., you may have a comfortable living by selling newsletter and whitepapers. The hard part is you have to prove that you are really an expert in this field.

    Courses:

    Thanks to Internet, more and more people are willing to learn different subjects from the comfort of their work and home. If you have enough knowledge of a particular subject, create an online course and market it through Internet.

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    Surveys and data:

    Business bases on various marketing, demographic, sales and other data. You may collect those data from various sources and by conducting your own online surveys. This also requires enough knowledge of a specific business field and their requirement.

    Research and Analysis:

    People are often ready to pay for research and analysis information of their fields because, in general, this saves their own time. Thats why subscription based stocks and other research websites are thriving on the Internet.

    There are number of other reasons why you should consider selling information on the Internet.

    Audience size

    Millions of people from all over the world are browsing through the Internet in any given time. Your information product can be exposed to a very large number of prospective buyers in no time.

    Easy to develop

    Information products like reports and e-books are fairly easy to create. All you need is the knowledge of the field, a little determination and enough time to spend on it.

    Low cost and low over head

    You can create and market a report for less than US $100. You can take advantage of numbers of free marketing tools available on the Internet. You can even keep your overhead low by doing things all by yourself.

    You can start part time

    This is one business you can start from shoestring and spending only couple of hours a day. You can keep your job until you feel comfortable with the earning you generate through your online endeavor.

    Conduct business from anywhere

    The best thing about this business is you can do it from anywhere. You are no longer confined to a specific geographical region. While developing your information product keep in mind the following aspects:

    Does this product satisfy a need or does it solve a problem?
    Is their enough value in it?
    Is it a better product than others available on the Internet?
    Is this product easy to market to your chosen market segment?

    The last question is very important as the sheer size of Internet makes it virtually impossible to focus on it as a whole. You must segment your market as clearly and as specifically as possible to become a successful Internet marketer.

    Once you finished developing your product, initially, try selling your product through a marketplace similar to Clickbank. This will allow you to setup your online business fairly quick. You will not need a merchant account of your own and you can build your affiliate program with an ease.

    Promote Your Website - Part III Link Popularity Monday, June 30, 2003
    Promote Your Website - Link Popularity

    What is link popularity?

    The quantity of links in different websites pointing to your sites is called link popularity of your website. The more popular is your site the more links you get from other websites and vice versa.

    Why is it so important?

    Links from high traffic websites furnish you with constant stream of visitors. Other website marketing efforts i.e. email marketing, might give good influx of visitors while the campaign lasts but the quantity diminishes once the campaign is over. Links are a different story! Once a link is installed, it might start bringing a steady flow of visitors all the time, depending on the website where the link was placed.

    Link popularity is also crucial to search engine ranking of your website. Search engines, especially Google, claim that link popularity is one of the key factors that they consider in their search algorithm while indexing a website. What would be the rank of a website in a search result depend on its link popularity in a very big way.

    So, how can you conduct an effective link popularity development campaign and build traffic for your website?

    Content is the king

    Prior to start a link popularity campaign, you should seriously question yourself, what would be the reason for the other sites to post a link pointing to your website? Most high traffic sites are quite picky about putting links, and won’t do it without any apparent reason.

    If your site boasts quality content that the visitors of other sites might find valuable, chances are there that those sites would be interested in posting a link of your site on their relevant web pages. High quality content that gets updated regularly will definitely help you getting more links and subsequently more visitors. If even you are just a web store, you can still add much sought-after content to your site, such as, detail product information, articles related to the specific products, comparison tables, etc.

    If it is really difficult to get relevant content for your website, try getting a valuable tool that might be interesting for visitors and incorporate it to your website. You must have noticed that free search engine submission forms are common on Search Engine Optimization sites. Giveaways like e-books, white papers, articles and other freebies are also good for creating interest to a website.

    Submit website to various directories

    When your new website is up and running, first thing you should do is to submit your site to many search directories such as, Yahoo!, DMOZ etc. available on the Internet. Not only, this will help you get quality backward links to your site, this is also the fastest method for your site to get crawled by search engines spiders and get indexed by them.

    Don’t underestimate the value of the many regional and industry specific directories. Try submitting your site as many as possible relevant local directories. Examples of these directories are municipal business directory, local chamber of commerce directory etc.

    If you are a seller of, for example, metal related products; get your site enlisted in as many metal industry associated directories as you can manage.

    Get reciprocal links

    Since backward links are so important, building link popularity by exchanging links with other websites should be a priority in your online marketing effort.

    Which are the websites that you should consider to get backward links to your website? Your objective should be – not just having any backward link from any site, the sites that you are getting reciprocal link has to be relevant to the content of your website as well. First of all, if you get a link from a website which has nothing in common with your site, you, most probably, will not receive any traffic from that site. The second and most important issue is – the search engines, while calculating your website’s rank in a specific keyword search result, consider, mainly, the backward links which are relevant to your site.

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    Search engine Google uses a unique Page rank system to determine how relevant your website is. Your site's Page Rank depends on backward links to your site. However, if the page from where your website gets the backward link has more outbound links then incoming ones, the value of this link gets reduced. A link to your site will have the biggest impact on your Page rank:

    • If the page itself has a good page rank.
    • There are very few outbound links from the page.

    To check out your site's Page rank, download the Google Toolbar from http://toolbar.google.com/ and install. After that, go to your website. On the tool bar, you will see the rank of your index page in a scale of 0 to 10. The rating is considered good if it is five or more.

    Make sure, while exchanging links you select the websites that have page rank no less than yours.

    How to find the websites that you should swap links with?

    The easiest way is to check out the backward links to the website of your most prominent Internet based competitor or industry leader of your field. Other option is to run a search based on the most relevant keywords to your website and check out backward links to the first ten websites.

    In the search box of Google, Altavista and AllTheWeb type link: and then the URL of the site to view all the sites that have backward links to this site. Visit these sites to find the best one to exchange links and then contact them with a nice email.

    I will also suggest you to check out the number of visitors the site receives before offering a link swap. The tool that will help you figuring out the quantity of traffic a site gets, you can download from http://download.alexa.com/ by clicking on the button “Free Tool Bar”. This is also a very good tool to analyze web traffic. The tool also shows which other similar sites people tend to visit alongside with the site that you are viewing now.

    If a site gets significantly less visitors than yours, what is the point of having a link form that site?

    While looking for websites to swap links, don’t forget about your partners, suppliers and buyers. These sites are capable of bringing major traffic and are indeed relevant to your site’s subject matter!

    Your link popularity campaign should also include the following methods. However, mind it, these techniques require tedious work from your side.

    Issue Press Releases

    Press releases are a good way of exposing your website to mass and increase your link popularity. Whenever you are coming up with a new product or service, overhauling your website, adding new elements to your site or conducting a seminar, etc. you should issue a press release. It is also a very cost effective method of getting publicity for your site. To broadcast your press release you can use one of the free media release sites: http://www.prweb.com

    Write Articles

    If you are dedicated to popularize your website, you must have substantial knowledge of the subject related to your website. Why not, write articles on your subjects of expertise and circulate them on the Internet and post on your website? Apart from this will add good content to your website, if other websites and newsletters publish your articles, you will get free publicity and increase your link popularity.

    Build an Affiliate Program

    If you sell a product or service through your website, you should seriously consider developing an affiliate program for your site. An affiliate program is when a visitor from your affiliate’s site comes to your site using the link that you provided to the affiliate and buy something; the affiliate will get a commission from you. The affiliate program can expand your business substantially. Since your affiliates require posting your links on their sites, this increases your link popularity as well.

    Participate in Discussion Groups and Forums

    This is also a great way of increasing your link popularity. There are literally thousands of discussion groups and forums on every conceivable subject on the Internet. You should actively participate in some of them, those which are most relevant to your area of expertise. The signature along with your website address that you post there while asking a question or answering to a question also boosts your link popularity.

    Link Exchange Programs

    You can also participate one of the link swap programs available on the Internet. Unfortunately, most of the automated link exchange offers that you receive through them are random and irrelevant to your site. But, however, I would suggest you to give them a try, as chances are there that you still might receive some good offers. You can also actively search for sites to swap links in their directories.

    Development of link popularity is an on going process. You have to work on this constantly. But, the outcome that you might achieve from your endeavor also could be significant.

    Promote Your Website - Part II Search Tools Friday, June 20, 2003
    Promote Your Website - Search Tools

    Many companies after spending a substantial amount of money on the development of their websites assume that once the website is published on the Internet, people will flock onto it and, therefore, do not take website promotion as seriously as the development part of it. Today, with millions of websites around, no matter how great your website is, if you don’t promote it effectively, you will not get the visibility that your site deserves.

    Effective promotion of a website starts with submission of the site to various search tools available on the Internet. There are two different types of search tools – search engines and directories. Search engines index their listings based on the information retrieved by their spiders that crawl through the Internet following links constantly looking for new websites. The directory listings are compiled by human editors from the URLs submitted to the directory. If your website is listed in the directories you can be sure that the spiders of different search engines sooner or later will index your site. That’s why you should start submitting your website first from search directories.

    Search Directories

    Among all the search directories available on the Internet, Yahoo! and DMOZ are the most important ones.

    Open Directory Project or DMOZ

    DMOZ is the second largest human compiled search directory on the Internet after Yahoo! Open Directory Project is a huge web directory of Internet resources. All submission to the directory is evaluated by volunteer editors. There is no fee to be paid to get an inclusion in the directory. As a human edited directory it might take more than a month to get your site evaluated. Once you are listed in the DMOZ, within two weeks to two months your website will start appearing on search engines like AOL Search, Teoma, HotBot, Google, Lycos, AllTheWeb, Excite, Go2Net and a number of regional search engines. At present around 354 different search engines and portals use data from Open Directory Project. This is one of the main reasons why you must consider submitting your website to DMOZ.

    Submitting your site to directories is a bit trickier then submitting to search engines.

    Following rules are common for almost all directories:

    • Check to see if your website is already in the directory
    • Write an objective description of your website
    • Search out the specific subcategory from the directory hierarchy
    • Follow the rules of submission as specified

    Make sure you follow these rules while adding your website in DMOZ. This will improve your chance to get your website accepted and reduce the processing time.

    Yahoo!

    Yahoo! is by far the number one destination for Internet surfers. Although the search results for Yahoo! is provided by Google, many people still prefer to browse through Yahoo! directory to find whatever they are looking for. This makes an inclusion to Yahoo! directory quite valuable for ecommerce sites. Yahoo! presently charges yearly fee of US $299 for each web site submitted. The fee is nonrefundable, which means if for some reasons Yahoo! declines to add your website in its directory you will not get your money back! The only thing Yahoo! guarantees is that the editors will look at your submission within seven days and send you an answer.

    Should you consider submitting your site to Yahoo!?

    It all depends on the kind of business you are in. Some sites receive an overwhelming number of traffic from Yahoo!, others hardly receive anybody. My suggestion: list your website in Yahoo! directory for a year and see the outcome. If you feel comfortable with the result you are receiving – continue. If the result is not satisfactory you can always cancel their service after one year.

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    LookSmart

    Although it is the third largest directory on the Internet as a search portal LookSmart is not that popular. However, it provides directory listings to MSN search, About.com, Infospace, Inktomi and others. It is probably still the best way to get high ranking in MSN search. LookSmart is a fee based service. You pay US $49 submission fee for the site review by their editors and 15 Cents for each click through. Pay per click minimum monthly payment is US $15. For noncommercial sites LookSmart has a partner directory named “Zeal”. Zeal is a community directory for Internet surfers. To submit a site to Zeal you first have to become a member by passing a quiz test. The reason I am mentioning Zeal here is – you can actually submit noncommercial portion of your site to Zeal and receive an appearance in all of the places that LookSmart listings show up, without paying a pay-per-click fee.

    Other Directories

    Other small but notable directories that you should consider are joeAnt, GoGuides and Gimpsy. Don’t expect large traffics from these directories; however, they will help enhance your link popularity. Link popularity is a concept which means- how many sites have links pointed towards your website. Link popularity is important because your website’s rank in the search results depends on it in a big way.

    Search Engines

    Search engines use special programs to crawl the Internet and index web pages. These robot programs are called “Bot” or “Spider”. Spiders crawl up the Internet using links. That’s why it is so important to have back links to your website. When you make a search, the search engines show you the results that are retrieved from the servers, where all the indexed web pages are cached. Only when you click on a link from the search result you see the real web page.

    The most important search engines are Google, Altavista, AllTheWeb, Teoma, Lycos and MSN, HotBot, AOL Search, etc.

    Google

    No doubt that Google is the best search engine available on the Internet today. According to Google, they have indexed over 3.5 billion pages up to now! More Internet surfers are prone to use Google because it has great search enhancing functions, and you can always expect relevant and quality search results.

    You can submit your link using Google’s Add URL page located at http://www.google.com/addURL.html. However, if you have links pointing towards your site on other websites, you can be sure that Google’s spider, Googlebot will eventually come and index you site. Contrary to popular believe once your site is indexed, there is not need to resubmit your pages to Google, even if you updated the pages. If, although it is not necessary, you submit your website to Google, submit only the index page, it will find the rest of the pages using the links anyway.

    Altavista

    Once powerful, Altavista started to loose grounds to other search engines in a big way. Submitting to Altavista is fairly simple! From the home page click on the “Submit a Site” located at the bottom of the page. There are two choices for you: either you can choose the “Basic Submit” service, which is free or for an immediate inclusion, you can choose the “Express Inclusion” service.

    To prevent automatic submission of URLs, on the submission page Altavista added submission code that has to be inserted manually along with the URL. The Express Inclusion service costs US $39 for the first URL for six months.

    AllTheWeb

    This search engine is becoming quite popular lately. It has a very large database. AllTheWeb has very sophisticated search functions like searches for pages linked to a given page, searches within URLs or page titles, and searches limited by page size. It provides search results and technology to Lycos and Ebay. Submission to AllTheWeb is quite easy. Use the following link page to submit your URL: http://www.alltheweb.com/add_URL.php If you need an express inclusion, you have to use “Lycos InSite“ service of Terra-Lycos. The rate is US $35 for a full year inclusion.

    Teoma

    If you care about Teoma, a much hyped search engine, which is actually an additional search engine of Ask Jeeves, you can use its paid inclusion program located at http://ask.ineedhits.com/sitesubmit.asp?id=30270. It charges US $30 per year for first URL and US $18 for additional each.

    Inktomi

    You may not heard about Inktomi, but many popular search engines use the results from Inktomi such as AOL, Excite, Go.com, HotBot, IWon, Overture to name a few. For secondary search result even MSN uses it! Yahoo! recently bought Inktomi. Which means that very soon even Yahoo! might give priority to the search results coming from it. Inktomi provides a paid inclusion service. Inktomi sells its inclusion service exclusively through its reseller partners. You can find them over here: http://www.inktomi.com/products/web_search/submit.html The fee is US $39 per URL for a year and US$25 for subsequent URLs.

    Promote Your Website through Search Engines Part I Friday, May 30, 2003

    Promote your Web Store After spending substantial time and efforts the big day came when you finally published your website on the Internet. You are now ready to show your website to the world. But, with over a billion pages vying for traffic how do you make people visiting your site?

    Web promotion is an on going process. There are many methods of promoting websites, but, the first and foremost step that you have to take to generate traffic for your website is to submit your site to major search engines and directories. For most of the sites search engines are the primary source of first time visitors. How important are the search engines? Data show that more than 80% of Internet users find the sites theyre looking for through search engines. Over 57% of Internet users search the Internet everyday. Up to 450 Million searches take place in a day and most interestingly, 55% of all Internet purchases originate at a search engine.

    Before you start submitting your website to the search engines, you have to understand that you want your prospective audience to find you when they search for a site similar to you using specific keywords. Now, you know that when a person runs a query on a search engine for a website, usually he looks no further then first three pages of relevant results. You have to figure out a way how to get within those three pages. Better even if you can get yourself within top ten search results. Considering that a query usually delivers millions of pages this is not an easy task!

    As the search engines want to deliver most relevant pages at the top, they use highly sophisticated and complex algorithms to rank websites. But the main aspects, that they consider in order to optimize your ranking position, are your targeted keywords, relevancy of the site contents and value of the links that are pointing to your site.

    Keywords

    Target the wrong keywords and either you dont get any visitor or you get the visitors that you really dont need. How can you figure out which are the right keywords for you?

    If you are confused about the words that you should target to get the best result, start your search from one of your successful competitors website. Check the source codes of the Index page of the website. It should not be difficult for you to figure out what are the keywords that they are targeting. Since a broad keyword like computer, textile etc. generates millions of search results, you have to try to find words as specific and as segmented as possible.

    For example: if you are a textile company that sells fabrics and one of the best selling items of yours is jeans fabrics lets see what should be your targeted keyword. A query on Google shows that the word fabric brings 5,640,000 results. Way too much for you to even try get at the top! The next search of jeans fabric gets 148,000 results. Still a lot! If stonewashed jeans fabric is one of the items that you sell, lets see what we get from a query on it. Just 602 results! Well, this is a number you can deal with! Now if you use a few proper optimization mechanisms, chances are there that in no times you may get yourself on the first ten of this search result.

    If you know the broad keywords that you should target but dont have any idea how to make it more specific, use this little tool from Overture to show you what queries people make relevant to this keyword. Click here for the tool.

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    Place keywords in right locations

    For search engines the page title is the most important part of the page. Make sure that you use your targeted keyword over there. For the previous example your title may look like: Supplier of Quality Stonewashed Jeans Fabric.

    Use your keywords in different forms in Meta tags and Description. Use singular and plural variations of the words. Since search engines also look at the content of your page, try using keywords in your headlines and dont forget to mention them in the first paragraph of the page.

    But do not over do it! If the search engines feel that you are over using a word to lift your ranking, they may consider it as spamming, and block your website from their listing.

    Content is the king

    According to research, the primary reason for people to be on the Internet is information. People want information, quality information, lots of it and in most of the cases for free! This is the reason why the search engine spiders are created to look for good, relevant textual contents. If you are looking for a top position on a specific search, your website must have quality relevant content.

    If yours is a website that only sells product or services, you may ask, how can you possibly have enough content? Apart from detail description of the products or services that you provide, you should also emphasize on the benefits of the products. If you have related to your products articles, whitepapers etc. you must post them on your site as well. Its important to post quality information related to your products or services as this also position your website as a knowledgeable leader in your respective industry and create interest among your audience to revisit the site.

    Try renewing information on your site on a regular interval. This, as well, will increase repeat visits from people and the search engine spiders.

    Submission to search engines

    Once you are ready to submit your site to search engines, all you have to do is to go to the relevant search engine site, fill up the form there and submit. You can do it manually for each search engine separately or you can use programs to do it automatically. If you miss a search engine, you dont have to worry about it much, as the search engine spiders or Bots, as they are also called, constantly look for new websites to index. However, its a good idea to submit to the major search engines and directories regularly. You should also resubmit your website to the search engines in order to expedite the process of indexing after each significant change you made to the site.

    Web Store - Why Do You Need One? Thursday, May 15, 2003

    Internet has opened a new era of business opportunities. Each day, thousands of new consumers are joining the Internet. More and more companies are adopting Internet as their primary sales and distribution channel. According to Forrester Research -The survey of 130 U.S. companies indicates consumers spent $76 billion shopping on-line in 2002. This represents a 48 percent increase over 2001, and projections for 2003 come close to $100 billion, representing 4.5 percent of total retail sales. As a business you probably understand that in order to stay competitive you must integrate ecommerce to your present business strategy. A little research will show you that there is an extensive array of technology and solutions for enterprise and web store building available in the market. You also perceive that ecommerce sites can cost you from a mere couple of hundred bucks to hundreds of thousand of dollars. How to choose something from so many options that will exactly fit your present need? Although, this might look like a daunting task, a little preparation will definitely help you taking the right decision in your quest for an appropriate ecommerce solution. To understand your requirement better and create a proper ecommerce strategy, you have to ask yourself a number of questions. Below I jotted down some of the questions that, hopefully, will spur your imagination.

    • What should be the look of my web store?
    • Do I need a database for my product catalog?
    • How should the purchase order generate on my web store?
    • Do I need to handle different pricing system for dealers, wholesalers and end customers?
    • How do I bill my customers?
    • How easy can I make my web store to navigate?
    • How many search options should we have?
    • Can I show my customers a product comparison table?
    • What should be my merchant account gateway system?
    • Finally, how much should I invest to build my web store?

    If building an ecommerce site from scratch feels too overwhelming to you and you are a small business, my suggestion is - to build a web store with one of the providers similar to Yahoo, Bigstep, Rusbiz etc. The web stores that you can build directly on the Internet have all the necessary features like shopping cart, product catalog and payment gateway as any regular ecommerce site. In most of the cases, you construct web store online from templates and easy-to-use editor and you hardly need to know html or other script languages.

    The benefits of using a web store that you can build online are enormous.

    Quick to build: If you have all the materials handy, you can build a web store within a day.

    Easy in use: You dont have to be a rocket scientist to build a fully functional ecommerce site. Step by step procedures of making pages from templates allow anybody to create a professionally looking web store in no time.

    Affordable: Although, some of the providers charge commissions on your sales, as Yahoo does, in most of the cases your expenses are less than US$ 100 a month to have a good web store.

    The only disadvantage you have with this kind of web stores is you might not be able to give the customized look and feel to the site as you intend to. Then again, once you start generating enough sales through your web store, if you must, you can always build an ecommerce site by hiring web design companies.

    If you are still hesitant in starting online business using web stores I would suggest you to read the following eventual benefits that you may have from ecommerce.

    Increase your sales & profits

    If you are a brick and mortar company, online commerce will definitely increase your sales and with it profits.

    Enhance your company image

    Today, even small companies understand the importance of having a website. Planned, sophisticated and professional website creates positive image of the company and help building brand name.

    Reduce costs and save money

    If required features are available on the website practically all business processes are possible to carry out on the Internet, which allows you to reduce overhead costs, costs incurred due to documentary mistakes, document processing costs, etc.

    Improve customer service

    Frequently Asked Questions pages, forums, Internal Messaging Service, chat lines, etc. all these features help you effectively running your customer service.

    Become a global player

    Thanks to the reach of Internet you are no longer confined to a certain geographical boundary any more. You can sell products to any place of the world 24 hours a day. Add sales channels
    By joining e-marketplaces and B2B exchanges you can significantly increase the number of sales channels available to you.

    Reduce supply chain cycle

    If you automate supply chain processes through Internet, you will be able to shorten the entire cycle from months to days. You will be even able to eliminate certain phases of your supply chain process.

    Market products and services

    There are numerous ways of getting traffics on your site and popularize your products. In fact, you can get more people in your web store than it is physically possible to accommodate in a bricks-and-mortar shop.

    Compete with large companies

    On the Internet you may successfully compete with the behemoths of your industry and even curve market shares out of them.

    Low start-up costs

    Normally, starting a brick and mortar business requires significant cost involvement. On the Internet - opposite is true! To start a business online you hardly need any major investment.

    No entry barrier

    As you know, many businesses in real world are tightly controlled by certain groups. On the internet there is no such barrier! Anybody can start any business of his choice.

    No need to close existing sales channels

    By adopting Internet as a sales channel you do not loose anything as your web store only complements existing sales conduit.

    If you are new to ecommerce world, I would advise you to go slow! First create a plan with long term and short term objectives. Try implementing your plan gradually. Make sure that you do not spend too much money on your initial ecommerce project. Remember! Over 80 percent of all software projects do not finish in time within the budget; and do not work as planned!

    Six components of a good e-commerce site Wednesday, April 30, 2003

    Many of your competitors are already doing business through the Internet. You read that yearly growth rate of e-commerce is over 25 percent. E-commerce segment for the businesses that sells to other businesses or B2B, as it is called, is escalating even in a better pace. Naturally, at one point, you too decide that you need to have a piece of this action! But, what are the main characteristics of a good e-commerce site that you must consider even before you build one? A small research will show that there are numerous choices for you to make your business presence online. In fact, you can be overwhelmed with all the possibilities that are available on the Internet to build an e-commerce website.

    However, it is important to plan your website before even shop around for tools to build your site. There are some basic components that all e-commerce sites include, such as product or service description pages, a shopping cart - so that buyers can select and keep items from your product list till they generate a purchase order or an invoice, a payment mechanism so that buyers can pay for your products online or offline. But, you also need to pay attention to the following crucial aspects:

    Product information

    Buyers take their decision whether to buy a product from your site or not depending on the information that you provide. Thats why the product should have a clear and high-quality picture, short and detailed specifications. If necessary add attachments of diagrams, sketches, video etc. along with the product specification. Write clearly and prominently all sales terms and after sales supports terms, etc.

    If you have many products, it is better to use an industry standard classification system to categorize your products. The goal is to have all the information related to the product available on the website, so that the customer can take a positive buying decision instantly.

    Different Ordering Methods

    The ultimate goal of your e-commerce site is to make sales. Many people still dont feel comfortable to make payments through online transactions. You would be better off if you include ordering processes by fax, telephone and ordinary mail. In fact, to have a telephone number for customer support and order is a must for any e-commerce site as it gives buyers some extra feelings of security. That way they know that they can always talk to a live person if anything goes wrong.

    Different Payment Methods

    Although credit cards are by far the most acceptable means of payments on the Internet, you should definitely consider other methods as well. For small payments, Paypal is becoming increasingly a popular mode. All e-commerce sites should integrate this to their payment methods. More options include: Electronic checks, e-bullion, Offline bank transfer etc.

    Shopping Cart with Tax Calculation

    In your search for shopping carts look for the ones, which have different tax calculation mechanisms inbuilt. If you are located in a province or state where your regional tax gets calculated on top of the federal or vice versa, your shopping cart should have the ability to calculate them correctly.

    Guarantees

    As money back guarantees are becoming increasingly common on online sales you should consider prominently posting your money back guarantee on you website. Be sure to make your money back guarantee generous! Customers are becoming pickier on this issue. For example if you sell knowledge base products like e-books, reports etc. make your hundred percent guarantees at least of two months. For tangible products, after sales warrantees should be also considerably generous. Customers should feel completely secured to buy at your website.

    Privacy Policy

    Your website must have a privacy policy. Customers are very concerned about the information that they are relaying to you. You must clearly explain them what you plan to do with the various information that you collect from your customers. If your site is planning to use cookies, make sure that you covered this aspect in your privacy policy too.

    Security

    If your website collects sensitive information from your customers, you should use security systems like SSL (Secure Socket Layer). This guarantees that the data provided by your customer will not fall into the hand of a malicious hacker while transferring from his computer to the web server. This also will reassure your customers that you are truly concerned about the security of their personal and sensitive information.

    Once you know how to handle all the above mentioned aspects, go ahead and look for a great tool to build your dream e-commerce website and make money online!

    Conducting Business through B2B E-marketplaces Tuesday, April 15, 2003

    Conducting Business through B2B E-marketplaces Businesses, which are still sitting on sidelines and not doing business on the Internet, should think seriously about their position! If you are one of them, chances are there, that you have to pay dearly for your indecision as you might lose significant market share to your more proactive competitors in a very short period of time.

    Apart from the fact that e-commerce is growing at the rate of more than 25 percent a year, the use of online features can bring efficiency to virtually every aspect of business process, be it supply chain management or customer support management.

    But, how can you build an e-commerce business and take advantages of all these great possibilities? After all, you are pretty sure that anything to do with new technology is complicated, time-consuming, and expensive.

    Believe it or not, this is just a misconception that most business owners have about the Internet technology. The truth is in order to run a business online and reap profits, like any new effort, you need to do a little homework, have patience and determination, and get going.

    Take the following steps seriously and in no time you will be able to embrace fascinating world of online business.

    Take your products online

    Getting your product online does not simply mean - having a nice picture and a product narration to go with it. Effective use of the Internet is based on standards. Standards, as you know, are created to facilitate common use of a technology. If you ever imported or exported a product or service, or if you registered your product with some kind of authorities ever; you certainly know that each product falls under certain subcategory according to the classification system that you encountered. Internet is the same thing. Since the emergence of Internet, several classification systems have been developed.

    If you think long term and would like to use same catalog with multiple e-marketplaces, you should adopt one of the prevailing classification system in the Internet. The best online catalog classification available from my point of view is UNSPSC. For one thing, many prominent e-marketplaces adopted this particular system, which allows you to post your products on multiple e-procurement systems and e-marketplaces.

    How do you do this? I would suggest you to become a member of one of the e-marketplaces, where you can aggregate your products using some kind of simple wizards or forms. E-marketplaces based on Commerce Ones the largest B2B e-marketplace enabler, have this facility.

    Our own Rusbiz e-catalog system, which is also based on UNSPSC, also allows you to integrate your products using a very simple but sophisticated form. If you do not have time to do it by your own, you can use the service of a B2B exchange. Rusbiz also provides with similar service.

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    Get an online presence

    What should be your next step once you have all your products transformed into e-catalog? Naturally, you need to have an online presence to sell the products. There are number of options how to do this.

    Become a member of an e-marketplace

    This could be a large geography oriented fairly large horizontal market or a vertical e-marketplace specific to your industry. The membership fees are in most of the cases not so expensive. But many of them charge some percentage on your transactions, usually, from 1 to 3 percent. If you expect big sales volume, you may think this might not be the best choice for you. However, if you get new customers, thanks to your mere presence in an e-marketplace, the percentage that you have to pay on the transaction you should consider as customer acquiring cost. Under any circumstances, it is good to become a member of at least one e-marketplace as you -automatically get exposed to thousands of new prospective customers.

    Build a website

    There are several ways you can construct an e-commerce site to your need.

    You can build a website in house by employing developers or you can hire a web development company to do this for you. The advantage is you can have a website with the look, feel and functionality according to your given specification.

    However, both of these methods could be way costly for a small business. Average cost of building an e-commerce website runs starting from US$ 600 plus hosting and maintenance charges for a miniscule site with limited features to several hundred thousand US Dollars for a powerful e-commerce website.

    Another option that you have as a small business is to build an e-commerce site from prefabricated templates. While this is affordable and easy, you considerably lose flexibility and customization possibilities in comparison to building a site from scratch.

    Build a web store

    All these above mentioned cases do not allow you to have the potentials and advantages that come with an e-business website integrated with a B2B exchange. Which means, whether you are a business to consumer company with occasional sales to businesses or you are a pure play B2B company, a Web Store merged into an e-marketplace is what you need.

    A web store from a B2B exchange gives you the best of both worlds. You are having a professional e-commerce site which incorporates all the features that an e-marketplace has to offer. And you build a site from simple and easy to edit templates.

    For a detailed information about the features that come with a web store and benefits that you can get from them, follow this link: Powerful E-business Store

    E-marketplace - Facts and Fictions Sunday, March 30, 2003
    E-marketplace - Facts and Fictions

    Not long ago, industry pundits were touting B2B marketplaces or exchanges as Internet era panacea for productivity and cost-cutting problems of corporate world. Buoyed by excessive investor interest and driven by a desire to cash in on the enormous dot-com valuations of late 90s, marketplaces were sprouting like autumn mushrooms. With the collapse of stock market, it did not take much time for burgeoning B2B marketplaces to come to a screeching halt!

    When in 2001 high profile marketplaces like Chemdex, a life science marketplace started to tumble down, and most of the marketplaces started to show sign of disappointing growth rate, it became clear that something is wrong with the prevailing business model of b2b e-marketplaces.

    Optimists claim nothing is wrong with B2B e-marketplaces, as a new technology, it is merely going through the normal evolutionary stages. Others feel that business processes are way too complex an issue, substantially based on human behavior and intricate relationships; and this complexity will prevent wide spread implementation of online supply chain mechanisms through B2B exchanges.

    But, the truth is probably somewhere in between! There is no doubt that any business, irrelevant to its size, is able to create some sorts of value if they use B2B marketplace effectively. As far as B2B E-commerce is concerned, most agree, that eventually businesses have to do significant part of their transactions online. The only thing is - it might take a bit more time for widespread adoption, than initially expected.

    Slow implementation of B2B e-marketplaces is a natural consequence of some inadvertent stumbling blocks.

    1. The investment in B2B sector started to dry up at the end of 2001 as unrealistic expectations of many investors and funds did not materialize. As a result of this, many exchanges were forced to close down; and much needed transformation in the technology process slowed down in existing ones due to liquidity challenges.

    2. Many early marketplaces were built in a hurry to exploit prevailing at that time budding stock market. For these marketplaces, value creation for the participants was not a priority. By the time they realized that members need something more than comparison shopping and product display ability, it was a bit too late for quite a few of them.

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    3. Contrary to popular believe, buyers did not start flocking on to the e-marketplaces as expected. As it became clear, buyers require real incentives in order to go through the complex process of online dealing. In most cases, in order to get integrated to an e-marketplace, buyers are ready to learn, hire professionals, and invest on technology if they know that most of their offline suppliers are available on a particular exchange. But, until then, they prefer to refrain from changing their way of doing business.

    4. There are number of reasons why suppliers don't expedite the process either. They are mainly scared of comparison shopping and brand dilution. Complexity of back end office integration and product catalog conversion also creates major impediment in mass adoption of e-marketplaces within the supplier community. Suppliers with websites, who previously had disappointing e-commerce experience, are also quite skeptical about the benefits that they might achieve from exchanges.

    5. Many exchanges' revenue depends on the percentage-based transaction fee, imposed upon the participants. Some companies consider that these fees will reduce their net profit margin, especially, in a down market. This is another cause, why many are not very keen to participate in e-marketplaces.

    All these conditions are maybe right and, probably mass scale adoption of e-marketplaces won't take place another several years. However, don't think that companies should relax. As some industries are more advanced in their adoption of B2B technology, companies should constantly check where they stand. If their competitors are already practicing e-business actively; or many of their suppliers are by now on some sorts of exchanges, this is the right time for these companies to consider their online business approach seriously.

    The sooner companies understand the benefits that they can reap from B2B exchanges the better it would be for them. For suppliers e-marketplaces offer benefits like liquidity improvement, cost savings, better inventory management, demand forecasting, dynamic pricing etc. Buyers benefits include: cost reduction, real-time purchase, best available price and many others. Research indicates that companies, thanks to B2B exchanges, can gain remarkable cost reductions: 20 to 40 percent of overhead expenses, 5 to 15 percent of buying cost, Purchase Order processing cost from US$ 75 to just US$ 6-8; and decrease of document errors from 20 percent to less than one percent.

    Apart from these benefits, early adoption of B2B marketplaces also has great implications for companies. Early birds get considerable information advantage over their competitors; have enough time to learn from trial and error and participate in setting the rules for the exchanges as opposed to - forced to abide by the rules as it would be the case for late-comers.

    Whatever approach the companies decide to take in their quest of B2B technology, one thing is for sure that the e-marketplaces are here to stay. Over time, they will definitely evolve and their business models will also change, however, there is no doubt that a major portion of e-business will transact through e-marketplaces in near future.

    Nigerian scam Monday, March 10, 2003
    Dear members,

    We decided to dedicate this issue of our Newsletter to some of the burgeoning Internet scams that you are encountering lately in a massive scale, especially, the Nigerian scam.

    Almost everyday you probably get a number of various scam emails. Since the quantity of such emails are increasing constantly and the con artists even register with Rusbiz portal and use our internal messaging system for their malevolence purposes, we have outlined here one of the most popular scams under the name of Nigerian Scam and what this is all about.

    If you have suggestions and ideas regarding similar internet scams and you would like to share with other members, feel free to write us.

    Enjoy the great spring out there!

    Sincerely yours,

    Nowshade Kabir

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    Nigerian Scam

    Although this scam has its root from Nigeria dated a decade back, nowadays, you receive similar scam letters from many African countries, notably, Nigeria, Benin, Togo and even South Africa.

    The subject lines of these emails are pretty similar. Something like: Business relationship, Urgent Assistance needed, Soliciting for your assistance, A cry for help etc. Most of the emails from this scam begin in the same way. Here are two excerpts from most recent emails that we received:

    "I am Engr Moses Ekpen a director in the budget and planning department of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources (FMPNR), I had a seven man Tenders Board Committee in charge of contract award and Payment approvals. I came to know of you in my search for a reliable and reputable person to handle a very confidential transaction, which involves the transfer of a huge sum of money to a foreign account."

    Or

    "I am Mrs. Mariam Abacha, the widow of Gen. Sani Abacha, The Late Nigerian Military Head of State. You were introduced to me through the Chamber of Commerce. I am presently in distress and under House arrest while my son Mohammed is undergoing trial in Lagos and Abuja. He is presently detained in prison custody. The government has frozen all the family account and auctioned all our properties.

    To save the family from total bankruptcy I have managed to ship to Europe and Asia through a Shipping company, the sum of US20, 000,000.00 respectively kept by my late husband."

    The essence of these emails are also basically the same the person although does not know you, thanks to your business reputation, has decided to contact you with a very confidential proposal to transfer a mind boggling amount of money from his country to any foreign land.

    There could be numerous stories but the bottom line is they require your help to transfer the amount. For your service they will promise you something from 10 to 40% of the whole amount. There would be a telephone no or an email address to contact the person.

    You may wonder how they swindle people.


    There are various ways that the crooks rip off their victims. Some of the most commons ones of them are described below:

    They will ask you to open a bank account under their name. On their second step, they will ask you to deposit a sum of say US$ 10000 to that account, explaining if the account does not have any decent amount, the officials those who are responsible for transferring the promised millions of dollars would become suspicious and wont authorize the transaction. Once you deposited the asked sum, they simply withdraw it and disappear. Usually they choose a bank where they might have some connections. So you, after losing your money, do not get any help from the bank either.

    They will ask you to send some merchandize or gifts for the officials they need to bribe in order to make the transactions of the assumed millions of dollars smoothly. Naturally, you never hear from them once you sent the requested gifts to their address.

    We even heard stories like this one: A man was persuaded to come to Nigeria to look after the transaction by himself. Over there he was kept hostage until he shifted all his liquid assets to the thugs.

    Looking at the increasing quantity of scam emails that we receive, this only convinces that many fall for this seemingly simple trap. According to FBI these swindlers have defrauded millions of dollars from gullible people.

    There could be other variations of this scam, next time you read an email that feels suspicious, just delete it! There are other ways of making money!

    Some words of cautions! Although most of these scams originate from African countries, please do not generalize and consider that all companies form these countries are bad. As usual a few people are responsible for tarnishing the reputation of a country.

    Effective methods of doing business online! Monday, March 10, 2003

    With all these dot com failures so rampant, you may question, is it still viable to consider an online venture? The truth is: while spectacular rise and fall of many dot com companies have been overly publicized, sales through Internet are still increasing by 20 25% each year. Even economic down turn of the recent years has not hampered this growth.

    Consider this:

    According to an annual study of Internet trends by marketing research firm Ipsos, almost two third of Internet users in the United States have by now purchased a product or service online. Thats a dramatic increase from only 36 percents of respondents in 2000. Studies show that more than 35.5 million U.S. Internet users made shopping trips to web shops during the week ending November 3, 2002, which is roughly 14 million more than almost the same time period in 2001.

    While the hype over the new economy is maybe over, one thing is for sure that Internet has revolutionized the way we do business and positioned itself as one of the biggest and most unique sales channels. Many companies, finally, started to realize that their very existence may get jeopardized if they are slow in integrating Internet to their business model.

    But the question still remains - is there any effective method of doing business online?

    Below I have outlined some components crucial to any online venture. While these might not be the only vital components of web based business, understanding them correctly will significantly improve your chance of doing online business effectively.

    Business Plan

    Business plans are like road maps. Imagine, you ended up in a unfamiliar town and you have to find an address without a map! How would you feel? Definitely, you would have been much better off with a map of the locality! The same thing goes for business plan. Though, many successful ventures may have been started without the benefit of a formal business plan, a good business plan improves your chances of success and help you avoid many mistakes.

    A recent AT&T study of successful entrepreneurs shows that businesses are more successful if they have a written business plan than the ones which dont. With a written business plan you get a better picture of your planned venture. So, before starting you online venture, take some time and write down what are you planning to do.

    Product or Service

    If you are a brick and mortar company merely trying to expand sales of your products or services on the Internet your task is easier! You at least dont have to mull over what to sell. But, what an entrepreneur who decided to start a new venture should sell on the Internet?

    Actually, you can sell virtually any product or service through the Internet. You may say, "Wait a second, you cant sell big ticket items over the net, right?" Wrong! The car and part industries alone forecast to generate US$ 274 billion in revenues from online trade by 2004. There are incidents of consumers buying corporate jets online!

    If you are serious about starting an online business, finding a product or service that suits you should not be very difficult.

    Knowledge base products like e-books, how-to-reports and hard to find information and data sell quite well on the Internet.
    Drop-ship items are bountiful on the Internet.
    Thanks to global reach of Internet finding manufacturer for any item that you plan to import to your country or export from your country became lot easier.
    If you have expertise, online services similar to web design, travel arrangement etc. are also good sales.
    Internet users are paying readily for various types of online contents. Global online content market will add up to 50 billion US$ in 2003. You can consider this too!

    Website/ Web store

    Since you customers take their decision, whether to do business with you or not based on what they see on your site, it is critical to have a professional-looking website with good related content.

    You can choose your website according to your need from a vast range of choices. Starting from a completely free website you can shell out thousands of dollars for a decent e-commerce website. The choice is yours!

    There are various quality portals that allow you to have products and services displayed on a single page web site for free. Many business to business portals provide with this kind of services. However, for real time transactions you will still need e-commerce web stores.

    If you are not good at design or dont want to spend a fortune on you web store, you should think about getting an e-commerce stores from web enablers like Yahoo, Bigstep, etc.

    For a nominal monthly fee you can have the facilities required to run a full fledged electronic storefront and build it yourselves from easy to use templates.

    If you go for this type of services, compare and see who has most of the features for lesser price. Some business to business portals along with your e-business web store will furnish you with necessary features to carry out over the Internet many important parts of buy and sale processes.

    Shopping carts

    The integral part of e-commerce sites, which allows you to accept product purchase orders for multiple products or services, is called a shopping cart.

    The term "Shopping Cart"is taken from real life shopping terminology to help users understand the actions available to them. Like in a supermarket a user can add products to shopping cart, remove products from the cart or adjust the quantity of the products as per requirement before checking out and making payments.

    While looking for shopping carts for your e-commerce store, you should consider the following aspects of a powerful and functional shopping cart:

    Access to the shopping cart should be clearly visible. There should be several entry points to the cart.
    Add, remove and adjust quantity of the product features should be prominent on the cart page.
    The item name should have a link to the description of the product.
    There should be a way of saving items for future purchases.
    Shipping and other costs should be clearly stated before the check out process starts.
    Order forms should be simple and clear.
    All payment options should be explained clearly.
    Ordering process should be done through secure server. You know you are on a secure server when the URL of your browser indicates "https:". The s at the end of http stands for "secure".

    Merchant Account

    90 percents of all online retail sales take place through credit card transactions. According to industry statistics, the average credit card sale is $40 versus just $9 for the average cash sale. To offer the credit card payment option to your online clients, you need to set up a merchant account-a bank authorized account established by your company to receive the proceeds of credit card purchases.

    Even if you already accept credit cards for your offline transactions, that may not be enough. Although, you can take many precautions to reduce online credit card frauds, credit card companies still consider Internet transactions to be riskier than offline transactions. Thats why finding a right merchant account provider could be a little bit more complicated than you might think. Things could be even trickier if your business is located outside of the United States.

    There are many middleman merchant account providers on the Internet. Do some comparison-shopping before you sign up with any of them as conditions that they offer vary significantly.

    Although, it is definitely good to have a merchant account that does not mean you cant sell products or services without having one! There are numerous other payment options available on the Internet. Most popular of them are paypal, e-gold, e-bullion, etc.

    If you would like to have an effective online business, remember that old values still count. Proper planning, uncompromising customer service, integrity, hard work and persistence eventually will make your business successful.

    E-marketplaces from Seller's Perspective Monday, January 20, 2003

    What is an E-marketplace anyway?

    E-marketplace is a business to business web based venue, where buyers and sellers meet online, generate business leads and conduct business transactions. The e-marketplace features are tailored in a manner so that a large numbers of buyers and suppliers can be serviced as a community. A participant of an E-marketplace can be a buyer, a seller or both. Unlike an E-distribution portal which is oriented to assist suppliers selling their products or an E-procurement system which is focused on buyers solely, an E-marketplace is a platform which caters buyers and sellers equally. As a participant of an E-marketplace you are able to explore buying and selling opportunities, make sales offers and buy products and services, add products and services to aggregated e-catalog and use numerous other value added features.

    E-marketplaces are tremendously beneficial to all businesses that decide to participate in them. However, the potential benefits that a company can accrue from an E-marketplace are directly proportional to the factor how heavily the company uses the offered features of that E-marketplace. Naturally, a company that makes e-marketplace as its primary sales channel and integrates its sales resources to supply chain solutions of the E-marketplace avail more in sales and administrative overhead cost savings, reduced paper work, better customer service, reduced product distribution costs and online sales growth than a seasonal user of the e-marketplace.

    A committed participant of an E-marketplace can benefit from and improve two primary factors of company productivity: Revenue Growth and Cost Savings.

    Revenue Growth

    Expand Customer Base
    A seller, once registered with an E-marketplace, gets immediate access to a large community of prospective buyers of his products or services.

    Revenue Increase from Existing Clients
    Existing clients get faster and easier access to product information, quicker response to their requests, get better customer support and buy products online.

    Revenue Increase from Value Added Services
    Once an E-marketplace is set as primary sales channel, freed resources can be used to create more value added services for clients. Some of the services that the E-marketplace offers also can be utilized to generate more value.

    Cost Savings

    Order Processing Cost
    The supply chain solutions of E-marketplace allow sellers to reduce order processing cost significantly. Studies show that cost of processing a purchase order can be reduced from US$ 70 down to US$ 6 only.

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    Sales and support costs
    By automating sales and customer support processes companies can reduce over head costs over 25-30% easily.

    Inventory keeping costs
    Clearer visibility and forecasting ability allow companies considerably reduce inventory keeping costs.

    Most executives agree that primary reason why they feel that the companies should participate in E-marketplace is its ability to streamline supply chain mechanism. Many inherent inefficiencies of supply chain process can be eliminated thanks to integrated to e-marketplaces supply chain solutions.

    What sellers have to do in order to participate in E-marketplaces and reap numerous benefits that it can provide?

    As most of the administrative and operational tasks are done automatically by the e-marketplaces, participation in them is not a difficult process.

    These are the basic steps that a seller must take to participate in an E-marketplace:

    Register
    Registration might be an easy job of filling up a form. It is much better to take some initial preparations before doing this.

    Choose a good login name: your login can be used by the E-marketplace to give you subdomain name, i.e. login.e-marketplace_name.com.

    Profile: A well-written profile increases company image.

    Logo: your logo helps you brand your company.

    Add your products or services to E-catalog

    Most E-marketplaces furnish with easy to use forms or wizards for sellers to add their products to E-catalog. As the product and service classification used in the E-catalogs often is an industry standard, it is important to spend some times to find the perfect subcategories for your products or services. If you have any doubt contact the customer support of the E-marketplace. Fill up as many given fields are there for a product as you can. The more information buyer gets right away the faster his buying decision would be.

    Create offers

    Most sophisticated E-marketplaces have various sales platforms apart from the E-catalog inclusion. Make general sales offers, time sensitive offers (hot offers with offer expiry dates) and auction offers of your products and services. Determine the terms and methods of price, payment and shipment.

    Decide how you will handle portions of the supply chain that you have to do offline.

    Although, most of the supply chain process can be done online, not all e-marketplace offer a complete end to end solution. You also have to figure out what part of your back office can be integrated to the E-marketplace.

    Fighting Spam - III Wednesday, January 1, 2003
    You can use reverse DNS lookup tool to find out, who is the owner of this DNS. http://www.zoneedit.com/lookup.html has a convenient tool to do this. Another great site is http://www.Samspade.org, where you will find most of the tools needed to fight spammers.

    Often novice affiliates in their effort to promote merchant site start spamming, if you feel that the site that you got onto is a serious site, send a complain to abuse@site?s domain. If abuse is not a valid email address, try postmaster or webmaster. The whois tool will help you finding the owner of the site and contact email address as well.

    Most of the legitimate online business do not support spamming, and will probably close down the rogue affiliates account with them.

    If this does not help, and you still continue receiving same spam contact the host or upstream provider of that site and make a complaint. This most certainly will bring result. No Internet Service Provider wants to host a site that promotes itself with spamming.

    Finding who to complain using the mail header

    The problem with the header nowadays is almost everything what you will see over there can be forged, except the first line where you can see from which mail server this mail was delivered to your mail server. Sending a complaint to them may help but considering, in most of the cases, these servers belong to large providers; and usually they are overwhelmed with the number of complaints they receive a day. They are more concerned about the junk mails, where their server was used as source rather than a relay center.

    The forging of traces in the email header is called ?spoofing?. Email spoofing is the practice of concealing the email senders' identity with that of a third party in order to make the email more desirable to open and to obfuscate the ability to trace the sender.

    You may try to dig out who is behind the spam by checking the header thoroughly, but most probably stumble on a unsuspecting person, whose computer was used to spew out this spam over the Internet. How the spammers do this?

    The spammers use open relays to send large amount of spam via third party SMTP email server. The relay feature is a part of all SMTP-based servers, which means that most modern e-mail servers, if the relay service is not turned off, are vulnerable to misuse.

    Spammers periodically scan the Internet for unsecured relays or Proxy servers, and use them for their malicious work.

    Spammers even use viruses to compromise a computer so that they can send spam through it.

    Sobig.E, a worm virus, was opening up proxy server channels and with that, if a spammer knows that a machine is infected, he could get in and use that machine to send out spam. Windows-based systems infected by mprox, another virus, also provide spammers with an open relay or proxy server, which can be used to send junk mails.
    Fighting Spam-II Wednesday, January 1, 2003
    While simply deleting and filtering your emails at the gate might be a way of handling the problem, this does nothing to stop the spammer; and cost you and your company extra bandwidth expenses.

    One of the ways of fighting spam is to complain about it to the right administrator, who can do some thing about it.

    If you are willing to make a complaint, but do not want to spend the time to find out for a particular spam email which would be the right authority to lodge complain, use spamcop.net or other similar anti-spam sites. These sites, once receive a report from you will send an email on your behalf to the appropriate network authority.

    If you would like to do it by yourself follow these steps:

    View the spam with full header
    First get the full header of the spam email. In Outlook XP you do it by going to View from the main menu and clicking on Options. For other mail programs if you are not sure how to view an email with full header consult this page:

    http://www.spamcop.net/fom-serve/cache/19.html

    Check out the body of the spam
    Often the message in the email will invite you to visit a website or there would be an email address to contact the spammer. If this is the case, go to the site and see if the content of the site corresponds to the message that you received. If it does, you found the perpetrator easily. Next - find who is the host or ISP (Internet Service Provider) of this site by tracking the route to the site. In Windows Command Prompt, which probably you will find in All Programs, then Accessories menu. Use tracert command with the name of the site. Example: tracert rusbiz.com

    If tracert command is unavailable go to the following site: http://www.traceroute.org, over there you will find a handful of web addresses categorized by country, which provide the traceroute service.

    The URL right before the sites url at the end of the query is called the upstream provider of the site. They are probably the appropriate abuse contacts to complain to. Tracert will most likely show the urls in IP addresses.


    To be continued...

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    Fighting Spam Wednesday, January 1, 2003
    If you are a resident of California, you must have heard the new anti-spam law that the Golden State is planning to enact. According to this law the Internet providers, the state attorney general and spam recipients may sue spammers and the promoter of the products or services who use deceptive information in the subject line of an email, enclose invalid reply addresses or try to cover up tracking path. The limit for civil judgments against spammers is $1,000 per message or $1 million per incident.
    In UK a similar law will go effective from December 11. Companies that practice sending unsolicited emails could be fined up to GBP 5000.
    No doubt, that spam is a huge problem! According to studies, due to spam this year US companies alone will lose more than US $10 Billion in lost productivity. However, state regulations solely will hardly be able to solve this problem. Average Internet users like and me also have to take some decisive steps to curve down this rising nuisance.

    If you are overwhelmed with growing numbers of spam that you receive each day; and tired of scrupulously deleting them off, below I jot down some methods of fighting back, hopefully that will help some of us.

      1. Use inbuilt filter that comes with your mailing program.
      2. Complain to Internet Service Provider of the Spammer.
      3. Trace down the real account of the spammer and block it.
    Use inbuilt filter that comes with your mailing program
    Make a list of all the words that are common in the spam emails, i.e. Viagra, Nigeria, etc.
    If use Microsoft Outlook as your mailing program, do the followings:
    • Open Outlook
    • Click on Tools from man menu
    • Choose Rules Wizard from the drop down menu
    • On the page Apply changes to this folder: Click on New
    • Select Start creating a rule from Templates
    • Choose Move messages based on content
    • Click on specific words link from the box at the bottom
    A small window will appear, add each and every phrase meticulously from the list you created earlier.
    • Once finished click on OK to close the window.
    • Click on the link specified at the same box
    • Open a new folder by clicking on the New button under the name Spam emails
    • Click on OK
    • Click on Finish From now on all emails that contain words from your list will be moved to the Spam emails folder.
    • All you have to do is time to time delete the emails, which appear there.

    To be continued ..

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