5 Basic Tools Every Online Business Needs

5-TOOLSIn this article we will look at the five most basic internet marketing tools that are the backbone of any online business, and a few things you should consider when buying them. These are the basic tools most successful online businesses will need. There are multiple providers for each of the tools mentioned above, so take the time to research those you think will work best for your business.

Your Domain Name

Your-Domain-Name

Your domain name will define your business for a long time to come. Re-branding is an expensive process filled with problems, and it’s something you will definitely want to avoid.

So you need to choose your domain name with care.

I usually define domain names into 4 categories:

  1. Purely generic – Think readingglasses.com or webhosting.com or hotels.com

These are domains that are very descriptive by nature, and when someone reads them they immediately know what the website is about.

  1. Purely brandable – Think amazon.com or expedia.com or google.com

Purely brandable domains normally work best if for those who are willing to build up a long-term business with repeat customers and have a healthy branding budget. It can also work well if your brand is very personal and represents you or your personal values and ideas more than a particular product, such as this website for example: www.RobertRider.com

  1. Mixed brandable generic – Think hotjobs.com photobucket.com or paypal.com

It can be a bit easier to get initial traction with a mixed brandable generic domain since part of the domain name is descriptive of the service or product. Another example is MonsterJobs.com.

  1. Local Mixes – Think dallasplumbing.com or manhattanhotels.com or albanywindows.com

For small local businesses these type of domain names can work very well.

There are a few things you want to consider when deciding on your domain registrar, but the most important ones are:

  • Trust and reputation of the domain registrar
  • How secure is the registrar from hacking
  • Customer support if any issues arise
  • Tools and services available
  • Domain locking services provided

If someone hacks your website you can recover from it by re-instating an older back-up version of your site and patch any security holes your site has. However, if someone steals your domain name you have just lost your business, perhaps forever. Your domain name and your customer list are the two most valuable assets of most online businesses, and you need to make sure they are always protected.

There are many good domain registrars out there to chose from. I can recommend namecheap.com name.com, Moniker.com, Domainmonster.com (if you are in the UK). My only advice would be to stay away from Godaddy.com whatever you do, and probably also 1&1.com.

Web Hosting

Web-Hosting

The files for your website need to be hosted somewhere where they are instantly available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, without fail and with very little downtime.

Choosing the right web host is critical for your business success, and the three most important issues to consider are:

  • Loading speed
  • Uptime
  • Customer support
  • Cost

If web pages are load slowly people will not wait for your amazing content to load, they’ll simply leave and find another site instead. Another issue to remember is that the speed at which your website loads is part of the Google algorithm and a slow loading website will suffer in the rankings because of it.

Uptime is the amount of time that your website is available, usually measured over the period of a month or longer. You want the uptime to be as close to 100% as possible, although most shared webhosts will have some downtime when they re-start the server after an update and similar situations. Some of the better Webhosts like and Hostgator have a guaranteed uptime minimum of for example 99.9%, meaning your website would be offline less than 1 hour in total in an entire month.

* Hostgator.com

* Bluehost.com

When you start out shared hosting is usually fine, but you might want to opt for a dedicated IP address to be sure your website is hosted in a “good neighborhood”.

However good your hosting provider is there will always be technical issues and problems along the way, so the quality and level of support is an important issue to consider when choosing your hosting company.

Email Autoresponders

Email-Autoresponders

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) the return on investment (ROI) on email marketing is an incredible 4,300%.

Any successful online business should have email marketing as part of their promotional strategy. The easiest way to create and maintain a successful email marketing strategy is to use a third party Autoresponder service like Aweber or Getresponse to automatically send emails for you.

This will allow you to efficiently market a series of pre-written emails to prospective and current customers automatically, while you can focus on expanding your business.

One of the main reasons to go with a trusted third party Autoresponder, rather than setting up your own is that they will by-pass most of the spam filters and make sure that your emails get safely delivered to your customer’s inbox.

The only two Autoresponder services that I have had only good experiences with and can recommend are:

–          Aweber

–          Getresponse

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Payment Gateway

Payment-Gateway

Unless your business is 100% pure affiliate business you’ll need to be able to accept payments from customers.

If you are running an ecommerce store you will probably want to consider setting up your own merchant account, but if you are not going to have a large amount of transactions it might very well be enough for you to use a third party payment Gateway such as Worldpay.com 2checkout.com or Paypal.com.

I have made more than $1 million in transactions through both Worldpay.com and 2checkout.com and they have always worked well for me, even without my own merchant account. The cost is slightly higher than when you have your own merchant account, but if you are selling high-margin products (which is what I recommend), this extra cost will not have a significant impact on your bottom line.

Tracking tools

Tracking-tools

Tim Ferriss notes that “things that don't get tracked, don't get improved”. This is very true when it comes to online marketing.

Tracking helps you optimize your website so that more of your visitors are converted into buying customers. The benefits of this can’t overstated. Apart from the fact that you make more money overall, it also improves your ROI (Return On Investment) on your marketing.

Once you know what marketing methods are producing the best ROI you can increase your spending in those areas and reduce spending on unproductive marketing efforts. This will save you time and money and allow you to grow your business much quicker.

Google Analytics is the simple and straight-forward choice for most online marketers, and it does work very well for most websites. It’s free and it offers a wide range of statistics that range from organic search queries to “time on site” and which keywords convert best.

It’s a fairly complex tool and if you have never used it before you’ll need to spend some time learning to utilize it fully.

Another tool that I have used a lot and like for tracking is CPV Lab. It’s probably the most robust tracking platform out there and removes all the restrictions most tracking platforms have, (such as only being able to track people that have javascript enabled) and it gives you the ability to run 6 different types of campaigns. Although it’s incredibly in-depth it’s also fairly easy to use and you don’t any coding skills to work with it.

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