Everybody needs to have the right set of tools. Carpenters have their own tools. Mechanics have their own set of tools. Doctors also have their own tools. These tools enable them to do their job easier. The same is true for online entrepreneurs who need to have the right set of tools for their business. Without these tools, its very difficult to start and even maintain an online business.
Being a neophyte in the business, I had a very difficult time managing the website. I tried to ask around but my competitors were unwilling to share the secrets of the trade. Eventually, i came to the realization that i can only count on myself to make things happen for the online business.
I started to observe the websites of my competitors. I tried to take note of what they have and what i did not have. I tried to research over the internet about the features that could help me improve my service to my clients.
Based on my experience, looking for the right service provider that could meet my needs was very difficult because I had to balance the price and functionality. After several trial and errors, I have discovered these service providers which I consider as partners that gave me the tools to manage my online business.
Below are the tools that have helped my online business a success.
1. Online businesses need a domain name and a hosting account. The domain name is the name of your blog or website. The web hosting provider is the company that manages the hosting for your domain name. In my case, I have chosen bluehost.com for my web hosting. Costs for the registration of the domain name and web hosting for 1 year is less than 3500. The best part about my partnership with bluehost.com is that they have a live chat support system that allows its client to talk to their representatives about how to set up the blog/website. Not being knowledgeable with the technical stuff, their representatives helped me through the entire process of setting up my blog.
If you want to test the waters first before you actually part with your hard earned money, you can check blogger.com you just need to create a gmail account. It is free so you do not have to worry about the yearly fees. However, when you use a free account with blogger, .blogspot.com will always be added to your blog' s name. This could prove to be a hassle if you want a short name for your blog. You may also create a blog using a free wordpress account. In this case .wordpress.com will appear at the end of your blog's name.
Both wordpress and blogger give you the tools to customize your blog and add features that will help improve its functionality and user-friendliness.
2. Online businesses need Web developers. There are a lot of skilled and experienced web developers in the Philippines. In Google, type the keyword web developers in the Philippines. You will see a number of experienced web developers who can create the right website for your needs. You just need to talk to them and discuss with them your goals and the features of your website. The costs range from 20k to 100k depending on the features of your website.
3. Online businesses need a live chat support. When you have a live chat support system, your prospective clients can talk to you when you are online. You can converse with them and chat with them in real time. If you are offline, the clients can leave their message and email address that will allow you to respond to them. Many of these companies providing live chat support system also has a built-in analytics feature that allows you to monitor how many clients see your website at any given day, what keywords they use to arrive at your site, where they are, what pages they have viewed and how much time they spend in viewing your site. These features are indispensable to somebody who wants to understand the behaviour of their clients and how he can utilize it to his advantage.
My live chat support service provider is providesupport.com. They have a 24 hour support system so their clients can easily contact them should they have queries. They have a 30-day free trial which you can discontinue anytime. The yearly subscription costs $99 which is pretty cheap given the information they can give you.
4. Online businesses need toll free numbers. In my case, my clients need to call me and talk to me. I have a toll free number which my clients can use to call me anytime during the day or night. The toll free number is linked to my own cell phone number. Every time a client calls using the toll free number, the call gets forwarded to my cell phone. My clients do not see where the calls are forwarded to. They only know that they are calling a toll-free number.
I obtained my toll free number for tollforwarding.com. The minimum yearly subscription is $84 for a plan of 7 minutes per month. This means you can only get up to 7 minutes of phone calls per month. If you exceed the limit, you will be billed an extra amount. If you receive more than 7 minutes of calls a month, you can always upgrade your subscription.
5 . Online businesses need to have email marketing software provider. I am a firm believer in email marketing campaigns. It allows me to stay in touch with my clients and give them updates about important news and events. It also allows me to send to them coupons for discounts and other offerings.
I have found a free email marketing software provider which is madmimi.com. If your email list is not more than 100, madmimi.com will send to your clients your newsletters and email messages for free. You can actually send unlimited number of messages for free. Madmimi.com also allows you to customize the newsletter and inset your logo to your newsletter. it is a good option if you want to try whether email marketing fits your business model.
I am not suggesting that these service providers are indispensable for all types of business. But i suggest that you check them out first before you start looking for other service providers.