This past year was tough on businesses. Many of our customers, both large and small, closed their doors. The internet was supposed to shield them from a down economy, and perhaps it did, but ultimately it wasn’t enough and some, even after decades of serving their customers, were forced to close. What happened? And is the economy really going to rebound in 2010 so this doesn’t happen again?

The reason for so many businesses failing is not a matter of the economy or of the business itself being viable. It’s not even a matter of the business not serving the customer, which has historically been a reason for businesses not being able to make it. The reason lies with a changed world. Customers no longer have the same needs as they did even a few years ago. A continuing array of more and more gadgets to complicate and fill our lives simply doesn’t seem necessary when you are in survival mode. Additional software features and buying software upgrades are certainly not on most people’s minds (Which is one of the reasons why updates are included automatically for our WebStores customers). Getting the most out of your current customers is key to growing your business. As an ecommerce consultant, am I willing to take my own advice?

In addition to developing shopping cart software and creating online stores for others, I run a number of ecommerce websites myself. The advice I offer each week relating to search engine optimization, niche marketing, email lists, blogs, and other internet marketing techniques are all things that I try myself on my own websites. But turning each of these sites into a sustainable business requires a lot of work, not casual tinkering.

One such website is NaturesPillbox.com. Nature’s Pillbox is a website based on a very narrow target market – Baby Boomers and Seniors looking for all natural health supplements to enhance their active lifestyles. The ingredients in our exclusive product line of “Colorado Natural Supplements” are based upon two decades of research focusing on beneficial plant properties rather than synthesized chemicals found in many supplements.

Regular readers of this column will know that businesses cannot rely on search engines to drive business to their websites, but that you must provide other means for customers to find you. Offering significant content about your products and services is an important way to get people to visit your site, and NaturesPillbox.com does just that. There a numerous pages describing the benefits of each plant ingredient used in the supplements. Driving people to your site through traditional marketing is important, and NaturesPillbox.com is doing this through a team of medical advisors, many of whom are offering Colorado Natural Supplements as part of their practice. Email newsletters, testimonials and word of mouth are all important components of creating a successful website. While the products themselves are proven, this new website is a testing ground to insure that the marketing techniques described in this column work. I encourage you to take a look at this site to see how these methods can benefit your business.