If your business hasn’t taken the online plunge yet, here is a quick guide on the top seven things you should consider.

1) Products or Services? Legit or Quick Buck?

There is essentially no real difference in selling products or services over the web other than having to ship tangibles. The internet is littered with phenomenal offers that didn’t draw flies and sheer junk that made millions. The secret is all in how your product or service is presented, marketed and supported. Unlawful business practices on the web may be good for some quick scores but they invariably fail over the long run and can land you behind bars. On the internet, as in the physical business world, there is no substitute for ethics.

2) Save Yourself Huge Programmer Fees

Hiring a programmer should only be considered in cases where you require very unique functions on your site. When you get your own site programmed, you should expect to pay thousands of dollars, as the final cost is almost always two or three times the original estimate. No matter what kind of conventional or e-commerce site you’re looking for, you can purchase a full featured template from a design site that has all the functions and most of the graphics already built in for under a hundred dollars.

3) Don’t Even Think of Self-Hosting

Setting up your own web hosting is patently absurd unless you are a hypergeek or are expecting to draw more traffic than apple.com. Perfectly acceptable shared hosting packages can be found for a few dollars a month. As long as you go with the major recognized names in the industry you can’t go wrong. If your traffic ever gets so overwhelming that you want to go with dedicated servers, you’ll be making so much money by then that the cost won’t matter.

4) Go with Live Chat

Your customers love live chat. It’s more preferable than calling an 800 number and you won’t have to pay big incoming toll-free phone bills. It’s imperative that your live chat personnel are well-trained, courteous, patient and can type quickly and accurately. You should also count on operating your live chat no less than 11 hours a day to accommodate the business hours of your east and west coast clients.

5) Only One Choice for Analytics

There are countless analytics sites available and they all fade into insignificance in the presence of the Big G. In this case the biggest is the best and when you set up your site for analysis through Google you’ll be able to access the most minute details of how it’s performing with just a couple of clicks.

6) You Need to Be Social

On the day your website launches, you should already have both Facebook and Twitter accounts set up. Consider your Facebook Fan Page as a cut-down version of your main website and a place to interact one on one with your customers. As for Twitter, it’s a great way for you to keep your prospects informed of what your company’s up to on a day-by-day basis. Keep it light, keep it chatty, keep it interesting and you’ll win the social networking stakes.

7) Promote through Email Marketing

The best websites on the planet will get zero traffic unless they’re adequately promoted, and with the proliferation of the smartphone and tablet lifestyle your customers are checking their emails constantly. Email marketing will help you engage your prospects, build a healthy newsletter subscriber list and keep driving the traffic that translates to sales!