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Most modern businesses have websites, but few of these websites generate a significant amount of income. This leads many business owners to questions whether their website is worth the effort. Luckily, there are ways to turn hits into sales. Here are five simple guidelines for increasing the profitability of your online presence.

Let the professionals design your website. There is no bigger turn off than a website that is amateur in design. People who encounter these sites immediately begin to question the quality of the products and services being sold. Meet with a web design consultant to make sure your website is both professional in appearance and function, and congruent with the brand image you are trying to project.

Interact with website visitors. The most effective way of doing this is with live chat. Customers who have questions about your product can then ask questions and determine whether it meets their needs. While this means that you will need to have a staff member manning the chat at all times, there are so many free chat programs out there that this will be your only cost. It also gives customers a way of connecting emotionally with your company and builds the image that you are user friendly and consumer oriented.

Ask for contact information. Offer a place for customers to input their telephone number, address, or email. This will put the ball in your court, so to speak, and allow you to follow up with contact such as additional product information and money-saving offers. Some websites even feature a ‘click to call’ function, where a window pops up asking for a telephone number and the customer immediately receives a call for the business.

Reduce risk. Many customers are worried that they will buy a product and then be unhappy with it. Offering money back guarantees is cliché, but nonetheless can be a very effective tool. Some businesses, such as Competitive Cyclist, actually allow people to order their product with a small down payment and then decide whether to return the bicycle or keep it and complete the payment transaction. This is a particularly good strategy for businesses offering an upscale product that offers a better experience than the more conventional competition.

Link to positive reviews. There are many review websites on the internet, and these can be a valuable tool for your business. Customers are more likely to trust them than a simple listing of customer raves on your own site. People familiar with these sites know that the reviews are largely unsolicited and that your business doesn’t have the opportunity to screen them. Seeing that your customers are overwhelmingly pleased with your product will appease consumer fears while encouraging others to give your small business a try.

Websites are great marketing tools, but they can be so much more if you follow these five rules. Increasing the profitability and customer friendliness of your website will increase your local sales while opening your business up to a whole new, international market.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & Creative Director of Logo Design Works. Since 1998, Mash has helped thousands of businesses express their brand messages through creative and award winning logo designs.