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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.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Finding customers. Serving customers. Keeping customers. Youknow this song and dance, whether you're a dotcom or abrick-and-mortar. In fact, competition in cyberspace is as fierceas ever-it only takes one click to get to the next e-tailer. Sofinding customers isn't the main challenge-it's keepingthem. Ellen Reid Smith, author of e-Loyalty: How To Keep Customers Coming Back ToYour Website (HarperBusiness) and founder of Reid Smith andAssociates, a Web marketing strategy firm in Austin, Texas, has afew pointers for you:

First impressions count.Think about the product and/or service you're selling, andpaint a picture of your target customer. Then design your Web sitearound what is important to that group. Are they teenagers? Gourmetfood connoisseurs? Soccer moms? "When they first come to thesite, your target customers need to see themselves in yoursite-they need to see their products, their needs," says ReidSmith. The marketing methods you would use in a traditional settingstill apply here: Do your research, and get to know youraudience.

Be a problem-solver. Thinkabout when you are the customer-do you only want to be shown abunch of products, or would you rather be told how that productcould solve one of your problems? Most people are moved by thelatter. Don't overwhelm your Web site viewers with a bunch ofproducts on the first page; you need to sell a solution to them.Whether you're peddling jewelry or public relations services,convince your buyers how you can make their lives easier. That way,"you're or-ganizing your company around customers ratherthan around products," says Reid Smith.

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