10 Tips For Web Success

The webmaster’s biggest job is to get their traffic up and keep customers/visitors coming back. Building the site is one thing, but simply building and posting a website does not guarantee traffic. In fact, a website could be beautiful and an example of all the latest technology and still not attract a single visitor if not promoted correctly. Here are 10 tips to guide you to success with your website.

(1) The internet is a new medium.
At least compared to print, it is. A website is a waste if it simply re-hashes something which could easily be put into print. Don’t have the site be just an online brochure. Put up features which take advantage of the internet as a medium of communication. Filter information for them. Provide search capability. Provide interactivity with features like forums, quizzes and tools. Web visitors like to interact.

(2) Treat the Customer’s Time as Valuable.
When a person visits your website, you have their attention for that point in time. You either need to use it or you will lose it – fast. Most visitors have short attention spans, what you need to design your site homepage so that it grabs their attention and provides what they are looking for right away. Its like walking into a restaurant. If you walk in and just stand there and nobody comes to greet you, you might wonder what is happening. But, if the hostess comes and greets you right away and walks you to a table, then you will be there for awhile and eat. The same analogy goes for websites. Don’t overcomplicate your website homepage. Best results will be obtained if you make it very clear where to click to find what they need.

(3) Design the site for customers, not the company.
Your site needs to satisfy the needs of customers, not the company. So, don’t post content which is not really useful to the site’s customer. And avoid over-flattering marketing hype about the company. It inflates the ego of the company more than it helps your customer.

(4) Involve the Visitor.
Keep the visitor involved and make them feel like a valuable contributor. Actively ask for the feedback and suggestions. Ask for communication from your visitors and answer that communication swiftly. When getting that communication, capture their email address. This will allow you to communicate with them long after they have moved on and forgotten about you.

(5) Keep it Current.
You need to have content on your website which is timely and relevant to the customer’s life. Posting month-old news is not interesting. Posting dry product information which never changes is not interesting. Yes, you need to have product information and other information on your site that won’t change much, but you can also post more timely content. You can, for example, post content about how your products can be used in certain situations in life. Provide tips and techniques – things which are immediately applicable and solve a problem.

(6) Pay Attention to Form/Design.
Some sites simply over-do it on the eye-candy. Big graphics just for the sake of graphics often impress the site’s designer more than the visitor. Do not use graphics that are large and purposeless. Remember, some visitors may still be accessing your website via dial-up. Your site needs to load up quickly for all users. A slow website will cause your users to leave quickly. Also, pay attention to graphic and design size. Many web designers operate on fairly large screen resolutions and sometimes forget that even though a graphic looks great to you, it will appear enormous to somebody on a smaller resolution. On the flip side, don’t go too light on graphics. A site which is poorly designed and using the default font and no color is not very aesthetically pleasing. Any web visitor, whether they admit it or not, judges your company by your website unless they have something else to go on. A well-designed site communicates professionalism. A poor design makes the site seem like an afterthought.

(7) Promote.
When a visitor communicates to you via email, it is best to use a web form. not only will this keep your email address from being picked up by spammers, it will also allow you to ask your customers for their email address and then store that address for later use. Employ the “push/pull” marketing strategy. A visitor coming to your website is the pull, but later you want to push content back to them in the form of a newsletter or other promotional material. Start a mailing list and use it. Invite visitors to sign up. Promotion makes or breaks a business, and as long as you respect the ethical considerations of your mailing list, you should use it.

(8) Don’t Operate in a Cocoon.
The internet is a medium which is shared by millions. When you set up your website, don’t operate as if you are a self-contained island. Get out there and keep in tune with what is happening on other websites related to your own. Participate in forums. Post links to other websites and ask for a link in return. Form partnerships with other sites if it is appropriate. When it comes to communication, people like personal contacts. Hiding behind general email address like “sales” and “info” is OK as long as there is a way to also email you directly. A company site which allows email direct to the management is good. Just remember how much you hate calling a company and getting stuck in their phone system. Sometimes you just want to talk to somebody. Give your visitors that ability.

(9) Have a Plan to Attract Repeat Traffic.
Use newsletters, out-going email, contests, forums, clubs, auctions – anything that will cause people to return to your website. When posting links to other websites, don’t just send your visitors somewhere else. They may never return. Provide them an exit page. Give them a pop-up when they try to leave your site. Or at the very least make external links open in a new window.

(10) Track Your Visitors
Pay attention to your site’s statistics and react accordingly. What are people reading? How are they finding you? Do they just come and leave right from your homepage? How long as they are on your website? Do they return? This data is immensely valuable in fine-tuning your website based on customer needs and wants. Remember, the biggest mistake of any webmaster is designing the site for what THEY want. A successful website is designed for the target audience, not to impress the site’s owner.

Email Communication Is Dying. What’s Next?

Currently there are 3 main types of broadcast Internet messaging systems that you can use to deliver newsletters, e-zines and other informational materials to your customers.

I’m not going to cover here internal or intranet messaging systems, the main focus of this article is on the virtual world outside your local/corporate network.

The main Internet Broadcasting Systems are:

– Email broadcasts that are sent through sender’s ISP and received with the email client of your customer (such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Web Mail systems, etc.)

– RSS Feeds delivered through web-based RSS Aggregators.

– Completely customizable and personalized multi-media messages that are sent through RSS Channels and received with branded RSS Readers (such as Private Mail Reader and Feed Demon).

E-mail communications used to be a very efficient way to deliver information to your prospects and customers. This was working well until we got spammers – thousands of unethical people trashing your inboxes with annoying junk offers without any permission on your part. Nobody really wanted these products, ISP customers were irritated with email-boxes full of irrelevant content, to say the least.

Big and small ISP companies (Internet Service Providers) responded by developing anti-spam filters and society at large was forced to work out a set of anti-spam laws regulating the use of e-mails.

So legitimate internet marketers had to accommodate themselves to these unpleasant changes by implementing various forms of opt-in verifications. In other words, now the customers have to confirm in some way that they give you permission to send them e-mails.

And you inevitably loose a percentage of your customers who for some reasons doesn’t want to go through the opt-in process.

Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Anti-spam filters are now so tight, that they easily throw in the bulk folder even legitimate e-mails. How it could happen? Well, you may accidentally use some of the “bad words” – such as “free”, “buy”, “purchase”, etc (there are hundreds of “spam words” and the list grows every day). You know very well what happen to the bulk folder emails – they are as good as trash. Chances that recipient will ever read bulk emails are slim to none.

You also loose some of your readers when you try to enhance their experience by sending emails in html format (which would allow you to add colors, and pictures to your email, use different fonts, etc).

You might want to go even further and insert audio or video streams into your emails to give your readers the opportunity to better comprehend the featured topic.

You might want to do other neat things….

Well, don’t bother. Sorry to disappoint you, but your efforts will be in vain. Major ISPs consider html to be the format for commercial emails and as such it triggers spam filters almost automatically.

Some analytic companies estimate that you can easily fail to reach as much as 70% of your customers in the nearest future. According to Doubleclick, one of the e-mail delivery leaders, the average rate of opened e-mails in 4th Quarter of 2004 declined 11.4% from Q4 2003, and is now only 32.6%.

Very bright picture, isn’t it?

Luckily, there is a solution, and it comes in a form of RSS technology (Really Simple Syndication).

To put it simply, RSS Feeds are the streams of information presented in xml format. This syndication allows webmasters to find the feeds of interest written by other authors and easily place them on their own web sites (with authors permission, of course). The Big Benefit is that this information is automatically updated every time when the particular RSS feed is updated.

In case of RSS aggregators, readers simply subscribe to the feeds and read them through web-based user interfaces (one of the popular RSS aggregators, for example, is My Yahoo – find the RSS Feeds of your choices, add them to your My Yahoo page – and you will receive the update on what is new on these feeds and will be able to read it in user-friendly format (you don’t have to learn xml). Each time you go to MY Yahoo you will be informed which of these feeds were updated in the last 3 days.

And finally, there is a third option – RSS Readers. It gives readers the ability not to worry about the information of their choice being blocked by ISP anti-spam filters. They can simply download RSS Feed Reader and enjoy the benefits of private media-rich environment from your computer!

You don’t have to go to any websites to get these data and you’re not forced to receive this information, you decide where and when to receive it. (Whereas with e-mails you’re facing the fact that anybody could send them to your mailing address).

There are a many good RSS readers out there. Some are free, other offer free trial. The most well-known is FeedDemon (has free trial), then goes SharpReader, NewsCrawler, Awasu, PMR etc.

Sell What Sells, NOT What’s ‘Cool’

Selling On Ebay – What products to sell on ebay
Sell What Sells, NOT What’s ‘Cool’

Too many people get bogged down trying to sell only what they know or like, or what they think is ‘Cool’…

“Sell what Sells, NOT what’s Cool” 

Our company publishes the Internet’s leading Directory of genuine wholesale “Drop Shippers” (wholesalers who ship products, one at a time, directly to your customers; eliminating the need to stock inventory). It’s called The Drop Ship Source Directory. We also publish the Internet’s Leading Directory of genuine Wholesale Suppliers who will sell to you in small Bulk Quantities, while still giving you larger Bulk Quantity prices. That’s called The Light Bulk Wholesale Directory. As a result of the information we research and publish, we get questions all the time about what products Home-based Internet Business owners should try to sell online.

I’ve been at this for years, and have become very successful in my Internet business. But let’s face it, folks. If I knew what was going to sell well on the Internet tomorrow, next week, or next month, I wouldn’t be writing this article. I would have retired and purchased a small private island by now. In the retail business, whether you are online, in a physical store in the local mall, or at a roadside stand, it makes no difference; choosing the products you are going to sell is always the hardest part of getting started.

I can’t whip out a crystal ball and tell you what to sell. However, I can tell you about the biggest mistakes that I see new Home-based Internet businesspersons making, all the time.

Too many people are fixated on four things:

  • Selling only products they like.
  • Selling only products they know a lot about.
  • Selling only products they think are “Cool” or “Sexy”.
  • Selling only products they think “The Hottest Products on the Internet”.

I get four basic emails from people who are stuck in this rut, and I can pretty much tell that right off the bat, by the way the email begins.

  • An Email from a person who only thinks they can sell what they like starts something like this:

“Dude, I’m like, a Sk8ter, and I need to find a Wholesale Supplier for, like, Sk8tboards + wheels + stuff”.

The first problem this person is going to run into (aside from the fact that he needs to learn how to write a business email!) is a problem for all four types of people here. There may not be Wholesale Supplier for the products they want, that will work with a Home-based Internet Business. We’ll talk more about that in a few minutes, though.

The second problem is “tunnel vision”. This person may actually find a Wholesale Supplier for “sk8tboards + wheels + stuff”. If he does, great. However, someone who has such a narrow vision of the Internet Marketplace will never branch out and fulfill his own potential in that Marketplace.

Say he does find the Wholesale Supplier he’s looking for, and opens a store. Because of the narrow vision that led him there, he’s likely to stick with that store, and that store alone. He’ll make some money, but unless he gets really lucky, he won’t make a really good income out of it. He’ll piddle along selling “sk8tboard” stuff forever, when he could have done so much more.

What he needs to do is broaden his scope. If he’s interested in “sk8ting”, wonderful. But instead of focusing on just that, he should explore selling all kinds of sporting goods.

Sam Walton, the revered Founder of Wal-Mart, was once a starting quarterback on his High School football team in Columbia, Missouri. He also liked to play basketball. Can you imagine what would have happened if Sam Walton never tried to sell anything besides football and basketball equipment? There would probably be a pretty big store in the US selling just footballs and basketballs today, because Walton was a very good retailer. But it never would have grown to the size and scope of Wal-Mart today if Sam had allowed tunnel vision to crowd his overall view.

It’s okay for our “sk8ter” buddy here to open an Internet store or run Auctions that sell skateboard equipment. Niche marketing is a good thing. But in his overall business, he should look for other products with which to eventually run other Online Stores or Auctions as well. One store leads to two, two lead to four, and so on. Never get stuck limiting your entire business to just one type of product!

  • An Email from a person who only thinks they can sell what they know about goes like this:

“Hey there;

I’ve been riding horses all my life, and I own a small stable where I teach riding. I’m opening an Internet Store where I’m going to sell all kinds of stuff that other riders will want to buy. I’ve got to find a Wholesale Supplier for saddles and Western Wear and such”.

Again, this person’s first problem is going to be that he may not find Wholesale Supplier of the products he knows so well, that’s willing to work with Home-based Internet Businesses. But, we’ll get to that in a bit.

His second problem is similar to the first person’s problem, but not exactly the same. This person isn’t fixated on selling only what he likes; he’s just a little bit scared of having to learn about something new. He’s obviously going where he feels safe.  That’s okay, but let’s remember what I’ve mentioned twice so far: he may not find a Wholesale Supplier for the products he likesGenuine Wholesale Supplier do not grow on trees, folks, and most of those who are out there do not want to work with Home-based Businesses. There isn’t one available to you for every possible type of product. It’s very important to keep that in mind when you start out!

So, what does this person need to do? He needs to understand that being in business is about learning new things every day. New ways to market, new software to get used to, simpler ways to do his monthly books, etc., etc., etc. Learning new products is just as critical. Again, never limit your business to just one type of product.  You don’t have to like what you sell. You just need to make money selling it!

An Email from a person who only thinks they can sell what’s “Cool” goes like this:

“Hi;
I’m looking for a Wholesale Supplier of electronics, like MP3 Players, Plasma TVs and such. Please tell me where to find them.”

A request for Wholesale Supplier of electronics is a dead giveaway. Almost everybody who starts a Home-based Internet Business wants to sell electronics at first. It’s the Cool, Sexy market, and even if you never sell anything, you can show your friends your site and say, ‘Dude, I can get you an Xlent deal on the hottest new stuff!

Electronics, like any other Cool or Sexy market on the Internet, is not the place for most people to start. That market is absolutely flooded with other people who already had the same idea, and the profit margins have plummeted. Why? Too many inexperienced Internet sellers. They start price wars, figuring they’re going to clean up by undercutting everyone else’s prices by a little bit. Problem is, the second guy comes along and undercuts the first one a bit. Then the third person comes along and undercuts the second. And so on.

Pretty soon all you have left are tens of thousands of people trying to sell electronics for pennies more than what they pay for them, just to advertise a slightly better price than their competition.

Not good.

The person who wants to sell Cool and Sexy stuff needs to understand that they are not out here to look Cool or Sexy. They’re here to make money. Four Slice Toasters and Propane Camp Stoves aren’t sexy, but they sell and their markets are not overcrowded, and that’s what the goal is.

  • Finally, an email from a person who thinks they need to sell only the Hottest Products on the Internet goes like this:

“Hello;

Can you tell me were I can find out what the Top Selling Products on eBay are? I want to know what everyone else is selling and get in on it.”

BAD IDEA!

Look at it this way. If you were in a giant field filled with nothing but concession stands selling Salted Peanuts, what’s the smartest thing you could do? Set up yet another Salted Peanuts stand, or set up a Lemonade Stand?

I’d sell Lemonade, wouldn’t you? :o)

In our business, we look at the Lists of Top Selling Products on the Internet, too. Then we run the other way as fast as we can. We don’t want to be just another face in the crowd selling the same thing as everyone else. We want to think about products that may be complementary to the Hottest Sellers, that not many other people are selling.