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Enjoy Your Stay

If you own an online business, you won't want to miss these tips for creating loyal customers.

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This story appears in the December 2000 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine.

Finding customers. Serving customers. Keeping customers. You know this song and dance, whether you're a dotcom or a brick-and-mortar. In fact, competition in cyberspace is as fierce as ever-it only takes one click to get to the next e-tailer. So finding customers isn't the main challenge-it's keeping them. Ellen Reid Smith, author of e-Loyalty: How To Keep Customers Coming Back To Your Website (HarperBusiness) and founder of Reid Smith and Associates, a Web marketing strategy firm in Austin, Texas, has a few pointers for you:

First impressions count. Think about the product and/or service you're selling, and paint a picture of your target customer. Then design your Web site around what is important to that group. Are they teenagers? Gourmet food connoisseurs? Soccer moms? "When they first come to the site, your target customers need to see themselves in your site-they need to see their products, their needs," says Reid Smith. The marketing methods you would use in a traditional setting still apply here: Do your research, and get to know your audience.

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