Testimonials Work!
January 10, 2000
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Reaching Great Minds Online
January 10, 2000 Issue #27
Mike Valentine, Editor,


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=> Feature article: A Little Reverse Psychology
=> Our Guest Column: Accepting Credit Cards Online
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by Mike Banks Valentine

Standard, well-worn marketing techniques sometimes gain some
polish when you rework them a bit. Everyone knows that happy
customer testimonials are a valuable addition to your business
marketing materials and your web site. Collect comments from
those who have had a good experience with your product or
service and share those successful relationships with your
potential customers and clients by publishing them on your
web site.

Now take that marketing routine and turn it on it's head!

Have you ever gone out of your way to OFFER testimonials to
businesses online? There is a very fundamental difference to
one aspect of the web as a marketing medium. That difference
is the HYPERTEXT LINK. If you recieve marketing materials in
the mail and see testimonials printed on them, you are likely
to wonder who the people offering that glowing praise are and
if they really had such a wonderful experience with the business
they are praising.

Here is the reason that OFFERING testimonials online can be
of benefit to you. If you are quoted on a high-traffic web
site as being very pleased with a product or service offered
there, you will most likely be given a HYPERTEXT LINK to your
web site. This is done as a courtesy from most businesses as
a way to say "Thank You for your Compliment". It lends a sense
of credibility to your comments because people have the option
of visiting your site to see who you are or follow up with you
on the comments in your testimonial.

Many business owners struggle valiantly to establish links by
visiting sites one by one and asking them if they will provide
a link back to their site. The trick here is that you must find
those sites that are 'complimentary' and not 'competitors' to
your own business and convince them that their visitors would
find your site valuable. When you offer testimonials, they can
be from virtually any site you have done business with or whose
product you've used. A link is a link is a link. You all know
by now that links increase search engine rankings -- right?

If you are a customer of an online product or service and you're
truly pleased with them, why not send the webmaster a testimonial
and tell them you'd be happy to have them publish your comments
on their site? They will be pleased at your offer if your praise
is short (one or two sentences) and highly complimentary of them.
Include a hypertext link to your site or your e-mail in the note
and tell them you'd be happy to have your comments published.

Most sites have a page of happy customer testimonials
and most offer a link back to your site or your e-mail so their
potential clients can follow-up with you. Take a look at those
businesses you patronize online and see if they offer those
linkbacks. Then tell them how happy you are to do business with
them and watch your traffic grow!


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************ HOT TIP! ************

Internet Press Releases Work!

We are excited to announce that WebSite101 was
featured in ENTREPRENEUR Magazine on page 50 of the
December, 1999 issue due to our internet press
release issued last fall! Press releases are a
valuable method of getting the word out about
your web site and occassionally are picked up
by major publishers to share with their readers.

If you want to use the most economical method of
advertising available, try issuing your own online
press release by using the online tools available
at Internet News Bureau for as little as $100
You can tell the world about your web site!


Accepting Credit Cards on the Net
by June Campbell

If you are selling something from your web site, the single most
important service you must offer is to accept credit card trans-
actions. In the 18 months that I have been selling products online,
90% of my sales come through credit card transaction, although I
offer two alternative payment methods.

To accept credit card transactions, you must have a special
arrangement with your bank called a Merchant Account. To qualify for
a Merchant Account, you must demonstrate that your business has had
an extended period of financial stability. Expect to present your
business plan, your financial statements and various other documents.
If you meet the stringent requirements, you may be asked to put up
several thousand dollars as a safeguard against chargebacks or credit
card fraud. You may also be asked to pay for the software or terminal
that you will use.

Standard Merchant Accounts require you to process transactions
manually, using the terminal or software and the credit card
information that has been given in person, by phone, mail or
over a secure Internet line.

With an Internet Merchant Account, the transaction is processed
online, in real time while the customer waits. The technology
automatically checks the name and other contact information given
for the credit card, ascertains that the card has not been reported
lost or stolen, and determines that the card has not expired or
exceeded its limits. If the card is accepted, the sale is processed
and both merchant and customer receive notification so product
delivery can occur.

With an Internet Merchant Account, the merchant does not need a
terminal or software, since all transactions are processed by
online technology. The merchant must have access to a secure line
to protect the privacy and confidential information.

Internet Merchant Accounts are even more difficult to set up
through a bank, since the risk of chargebacks and fraud are

Chargebacks occur when a customer contacts their credit card
company and requests a refund, claiming that they did not make
the purchase, or that the product was not delivered or was
unsatisfactory. In the case of digital goods, a disappointingly
high number of consumers are practicing "Internet shoplifting."

Since digital goods cannot be returned, the customer can download
the merchandise then request a refund from the merchant or a
chargeback from the credit card company. In a situation where
the goods have been ordered via mail order (or over the Internet),
the law protects the customer for a period of 30 days. Requests
for a refund during this time will usually be honored. Merchants,
even perfectly legitimate merchants, who attract too many
chargebacks are in danger of having their merchant account

Credit card fraud is the second risk. When a card is stolen, the
thieves typically make as many purchases as possible before the
owner reports the card. Electronics, computers and jewelry are
the products most commonly targeted, but no merchant is safe.
Another fraudulent activity occurs when credit card thieves
"test" a stolen card by running it through an Internet
merchant's credit card technology. When they find a card that
"works", they know that the card is "safe" and it can then be
redistributed. Banks will usually discontinue any Internet
Merchant Account that they determine is being used for testing
stolen cards.

The bottom line is that banks are unwilling to take on those
risks unless they are sure of your stability and unless you
can put up a lump sum to be used as a safeguard against fraud
and chargebacks. There are risks inherent in accepting credit
card transactions over the Net, and you, the merchant are the
one who will assume most of those risks.

Despite the problems and the risks, ecom is here and many
merchants, large and small are profiting from this new method
of sales. Merchants who understand the risks, exercise common
sense and provide good customer service can succeed.


June Campbell is a professional writer whose work has appeared
in several international print and online publications. Visit her
business resource web site for a free newsletter, free gifts,
articles, guides for proposal writing, business plan development
and more.



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Copyright 2000 Mike Valentine

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  June 9, 2001