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How to Find Customers Online

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This article from Creating Stores on the Web shows you how to find customers on the Usenet, mailing lists, and online forums; how to post messages that will make people aware of your store; and what might hurt your customer acquisition efforts.

Introduction

YOUR SITE IS FINISHED. You've got inventory. You're ready to do business. What else do you need? Well, customers. No customers, no income, no store, and you're back where you started. By now you realize that getting your store off the ground is going to take a lot of work, and that includes attracting customers; they aren't going to just show up. In fact, enticing customers to visit your Web site might be even more difficult than drawing them into a traditional store. On the other hand, there is a much larger pool of customers from which to draw, and with a little planning, effort, and diligence, you can make a large number of potential customers aware of your store.

There are two primary ways to attract customers to your site: through conventional means, such as advertising and public relations, and through the Internet. The latter involves finding communities of interest online, becoming an active member of those communities, and following some strict Internet etiquette ("Netiquette") to build customers by attracting online followers. There are literally thousands of interesting online communities, forums, and mailing lists that are frequented by people who are passionate about a particular subject. Many of these community members are interested in purchasing items connected to that interest--whether it is Star Wars movies, sailing, wine, music, or anything else.

We'll show you:

  • How to find customers on the Usenet, mailing lists, and online forums.

  • How to post messages that will make people aware of your store while not being intrusive.

  • What not to do.

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