Companies Need to Connect with the User

One place where companies frequently disconnect from the user is when it comes to messaging. Here is the typical scenario: The user arrives to a web site and they're dropped into a company's online experience.  The copy on a web site usually goes something like this "Our ... We .... Our ... About Us." This can be classified as the "Me Me Me" syndrome.  Too many companies want to tell the world how they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Please don't misunderstand me, I do believe you need to tell the user your capabilities and accomplishments.  But in order to be successful online you need to make sure you are focusing on the user.

Successful web sites take the approach of carefully crafting the online experience.  They craft their message to develop trust and provide the user with relevant information. This in turn makes it much easier to sell a product or service online.

I was listening to an interview with Robert Bly in which he talks about Bill Bonner's Four-Legged Stool. The Four Legs of the Stool are Credibility, Track Record, The Big Idea, and Future Benefits.  Use each leg to position your company and its products or services more effectively online.

Credibility
Unless you're a recognizable brand like Amazon or Yahoo, you will need to establish some credibility.  Do the things necessary to establish credibility and trust. One great way is to provide people with high quality information.  Make your user feel like you genuinely care about them.  Give them so much great information that they don't know what to do with it.

Track Record
Even though they aren't as effective as before, testimonials are a great place to start establishing credibility.  How has you product or service performed over time? Make sure your testimonials are benefit driven not featured focused. Users are interested in reading about what your product or process can accomplish for them.  "We saved $10,000 dollars by using the process outlined by XYZ Corp."

The Big Idea
How is your company or service different than your competition?  Describe the process or product involved in user centric terms.  Today everyone has a widget.  How is your widget better than other widgets? Perhaps you have a unique methodology that has evolved out of your product or service that can help people.

Future Benefits
If someone purchases your product or service how will it benefit them moving forward?  Tell people why it is worth investing in what you have to offer now and its impact in the future.  Show them how your product or service is going to create value  or save them money over time.

Make Sure You Use All Four Legs
The Stool is most stable on all Four-Legs (Credibility, Track Record, The Big Idea, and Future Benefits.)  It can still stand on Three Legs (Any Three of the Above).  But it will fall with only two legs.

You need to make sure your messaging is framed for the user.  Leverage your company's accomplishments, but in a way that allows the user to take notice; "Here are all the great things we've accomplished and here is how we want to help you ..."

If you can craft your web site using the methodology described you have a much better chance of being successful online.  Give user's what they seek and you will be rewarded.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

 


Web Site Email Suggestions

In today's world it has never been easier to setup an email address.  Yet many small business owners make simple mistakes along the way.  Something I notice on a number of web sites are contact email addresses that don't match their associated domains.  This is very prevalent amongst small business/personal business web sites.  People use their personal email address instead of using an email associated with the domain.  I don't think this is a good idea.  Today we'll look at some simple suggestions you can easily implement.

People go to Email First

It is very important to give people a place to contact you.  A recurring theme in all our usability studies is that people prefer to initiate contact via email, even before a telephone call.  If you are in business people are going to want to contact you.  Make the process as easy as possible.

Trust Building

If you are doing business via your web site think about building trust and credibility with the consumer.  Contact email addresses are a small step in trust building. There have been several occasions when I've wanted to write a small business. I proceed to the contact info page and see an unfamiliar email.  I'm forced to ask myself who is MrGolf0842@aol.com?  And is this going to the right person?  There is no additional contact information. This always leaves me a little hesitant.

If you are going to use your personal email address setup a small disclaimer about it.  Tell them it's your personal email address and where it's going. It's also help to provide your full name.  Some people get concerned with privacy.  But realize that people are going to be a little hesitant in doing business with anonymous people.

Keep Separate Emails - Business & Personal
One simple way to keep your anonymity and build trust with customers is to have two email addresses. Keep a personal email address and a business email address. This way you can use your personal email address for personal things and business email for business.

If you want to just maintain one email account, setup a business address and have email forward to your personal address. This gets you the best of both worlds.

SPAM Filtering
Make sure you set your SPAM filters properly.  It might be a pain, but read through the documentation.  Proper setup should stop the blatantly obvious SPAM.  But not block people just because you haven't white listed them.  I've run into this on a few occasions.  People ratchet down their SPAM filters allowing almost nothing through including legitimate emails.  Why is this bad?  Because someone might be writing you regarding a customer service issue or look to make a purchase.

There are a number of additional steps you can take.  What you see above should get you into the right frame of mind.  Make sure you are making it as easy as possible for people to do business with you.


Web Site Traffic Driving Revenue

A friend asked me yesterday "How does web traffic drive revenue?" It is a simple yet very important question.  There are a number of layers involved in the process.  Most businesses confuse the basics of traffic and revenue.  Because of confusion or ignorance many businesses don't do well online.  I'd also argue that too many businesses give deference to traffic over conversion.  There are a myriad of ways to generate traffic.  Converting traffic is a little more difficult.  The entire process starts with a simple formula and then branches into individual sections. Let's take a look.

A Simple Formula
Online Marketing guru Ken McCarthy provides his First Law of Internet Marketing: "Traffic + Conversion = Profits"  It's a very simplistic perspective on what it takes to be successful online.  For being so simple, the formula works. Unfortunately most businesses muddy up the process.  They add their own flavor and spin to the equation and get tepid results.  Check out "Why Do you Have a web site?" for a similar online success formula.

Markets and Generating Traffic
Online revenue generation starts with choosing the right online market. Many businesses incorrectly assume that if your site generates large incoming traffic streams that you will generate large sums of revenue. This rarely is the case.

Traffic generators can come from email subscribers, organic SEO, affiliate marketing, and traditional advertising.  There are a number of ways to generate traffic.  A simple concept that many companies confuse is the quality versus quantity debate in relation to traffic.  If you get 100,000 unique visitors a month and nobody cares about what you have to offer, your going to have a difficult time online.  I'd take 5,000 visitors a month that had a genuine interest and affinity for my product or service.  Visitors with affinity and interest for your product or service constitute qualified traffic.  You can help facilitate qualified traffic by selecting targeted keywords.

The Conversion Process
You need to convert your traffic.  Many businesses face the standard 1-2% conversion rates synonymous with the business world.  The nice thing about the Internet is that many online businesses have found a way to crush the standard rate. Some online entrepreneurs are converting at over 10% and others even higher.  When it comes to conversion you need to ask yourself: Do you have a sales process in place to convert traffic? You need to find a way to answer "YES!" to the previous question.  The web offers us many ways to create compelling offers.

Many web sites suffer from being poorly designed from a usability and direct marketing perspective.  Users quickly bounce off your web site because of the following: not compelled by the messaging, don't understand the messaging, or find the site difficult to use.  These factors usually result in the kiss of death for most web sites regardless of traffic. 

You need to create compelling messaging and test it on a regular basis.  Learn the techniques of direct marketers.  They have been creating compelling messages for hundreds of years. The web is only a different medium of delivery.

Back to the question "How does web traffic drive revenue?"  You accomplish this by smartly combining targeted niche marketing with a compelling offer on a highly usable web site.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:


Building Trust and Credibility with Follow Up

I'd like to greet everyone across the World with the New Year!  There has never been a better time where those who desire success can make their dreams reality. Here is wishing you prosperity in the business year ahead.

How many times have you heard this saying: "The Fortune is in the Follow Up"?   The Internet makes this piece of business wisdom even more true.  Those that use this adage stack the deck in their favor.  It is simple to implement, yet so many people find it simple to ignore. 

As I've mentioned before; one of the top factors for people choosing to do business with you is trust and credibility.  Would you buy a product from someone you didn't trust?  Those people who do a great job in following up with their leads build trust.  It isn't instantaneous, but takes time.  If you make the time to understand this important portion of the business game, you're well on your way to being successful.

One great way to follow up with your prospects is via an autoresponder.  My description is very simplistic.  People write entire books just on this subject.  In short, autoresponders allow you to keep a database of customers or perspective customers.  People sign up at your web site with their email and their contact information gets stored in a database.  This process is the essence of permission based marketing. 

The really keen individuals use autoresponders to obtain target market leads. People aren't going to willfully sign up to a list that is of no value to them. The first step a web site owner takes after someone signs up to their mailing list is to confirm a user's decision to join the mailing list.  After their willingness to participate is verified, a series of high quality emails are sent to list recipients.  Verification helps you establish that your email isn't considered SPAM.  This process is a great way to build trust and credibility over time.

If you choose not to use an autoresponder you can still send information via email.  You can follow the suggestions outlined above and below.

Some quick points to remember:

  • Provide your confirmed mailing list with high quality information.  This will assist you in positioning yourself as an expert and build trust.  Free is great!
  • If you are using email instead of an autoresponder, don't send emails BCC or CC'd. Each email should be sent to people individually.
  • Make sure your emails don't look like they're cookie cutter.  People are very smart on picking out bogus email. Keep your message sincere and personalized.
  • Subject lines dictate if many emails even get opened.  Keep your subject line interested and to the point.

These points are only a fraction of what you really need to know.  Remember to follow up with everyone.  Even if it doesn't result in an immediate sale, you might be successful at a later time.  People are much more apt to buy from those they trust!


Focus on Web Site Conversions

Are you converting your web site traffic?

One of the largest marketing mistakes web site owners commit is not having a plan to get visitors to take action upon arriving at their web site. Numerous companies look at their web statistics for the past month and are confused as to why so many people visited their site yet there is no appreciable change in revenue.  This is where the conversion factor comes into play.

A conversion is the process of your user taking some predetermined action or series of actions.  It is a measurable metric.  As an example, 10,000 people come to your web site in a month.  Of the 10,000 visitors, 100 of your visitors take a predetermined action.  In this case they make a purchase from your web site.  The end result is a 1% conversion rate.  100 purchases / 10,000 visitors = 1.0% Conversion rate.  In order to be successful online you need to concentrate on converting your web traffic.

Conversions don't always need to be in the form of a purchase.  Many people concentrate on building email lists to soft sell their product or service. Doing so increases the lifetime value of that perspective customer.  I know of one person over the last few years that amassed over 15,000 email addresses.  He delivered high quality content via his newsletters on a regular basis.  Imagine what you could do with 15,000 people dedicated people on your email list?

The cold hard truth is that most visitors come to your site and never return.  There are a plethora of reasons.  In some instances it takes several visits before a visitor will take any action.  You need to establish trust and credibility with your user.  A miniscule number of people will convert in their first visit.  You need to get people to come back to your site often enough to establish credibility.  In today's day of information privacy that can be a very daunting task.  After the trust is ultimately established it becomes much easier for you to convert users. Web sites that retain their traffic for subsequent visits are referred to as having a high degree of "stickiness."  Users are attracted to come back because of any number of onsite factors.

Here is a brief list of things you can do to establish trust and credibility:

If you can establish the criteria above you should be in good shape.  Can you put a check mark next to each item listed above? If so, you should be well on your way to creating a trustworthy and credible web presence.


Are You Taking the Time to Analyze Your Web Statistics?

My main focus for today is to encourage people to get setup with analytics software and learn how to use it.  A later post will look into some of the finer points of analyzing web statistics.

There are plenty of decent analytics programs on the market.  One of my personal favorites is Google Analytics.  It is a free service with few restrictions.  Google Analytics is easy to install and web based.  This allows you to check your web statistics from anywhere with a web connection.  Data is compiled every few hours, making it near real time.  Their current restriction allows you up to 5 million page views per month.  If you have a Google Adwords account their page view restriction is lifted.  If you are getting over 5 million page views a month, that’s a good problem.  Purchasing higher end analytics software should be a question at that time.

Whatever analytics software you use, take the time to read the manual.  There are so many people that only have a basic grasp of how to use their analytics software.  The more you understand about the program the more you can leverage the data.

You should check your analytics on a regular basis. Some people check monthly or every few months.  This isn’t enough.  My usual routine is checking at least twice a day.  You don’t need to spend an extended period of time going through statistics. As you learn to use your web statistics program the process becomes very quick.  It should only take a minute or two each time you check.  Real time tracking is beneficial in this area because you don’t need to compile a report each time you check your data.

When I check my statistics daily I look for two things: daily traffic trends and referring traffic sources.  First, I compare my daily traffic from day to day. This helps me gauge in the short term my traffic performance.  Second, analyzing referring traffic sources helps me to determine the effectiveness of my organic and paid search engine campaigns.  I might also look at what pages or articles people are checking regularly.

Make sure you understand the difference between hits and statistics.  Businesses need to recognize the difference because they are inadvertently misrepresenting their statistical data. 

Another pet peeve is hearing business people brag about how much traffic they get to their web site.  Traffic is great as long as you can capitalize.  You need to start with concentrating on getting high quality traffic.  High quality traffic refers to users from your target market, not the general user populous.  Those users are interested in what you have to offer. After getting high quality traffic, you can then focus on converting that traffic.  A conversion usually involves an online sale, capturing an email address, or another set of performance metrics.  It’s not about quantity of traffic but quality of traffic.

If you are serious about your online aspirations make sure you have a good web analytics application working for you.  After you have good data to work from you need to be able to interpret that data.  Get setup and go play.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:


P.T. Barnum's Tenets of Super Effective Marketing (Part II)

Here is the continuation of Joe Vitale's outline of Barnum's "Rings of Power".  The Last Five Rings of Power center on people, creativity, networking, writing, and speaking.

P.T. Barnum's Last Five "Rings of Power"

  • "He believed in people helping people to get results."
    Vitale points out that Barnum was a proficient at getting the most of personal and business networks.  His amicable personality and established trust made it easy for people to help him. He used his personal contacts and connections to get him privileged access. This helped him significantly in furthering his business.

    Use the networking power of email lists and strategic partnerships to help promote your online ventures and events. With the emergence of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace . . . social marketing has set the Internet ablaze with buzz marketing. Don't forget your network. If you have family or friends inside a certain industry, they might be able to share valuable advice. Network using services like Facebook and LinkedIn.

  • "He believed in negotiating creatively, treating employees and performers with respect."
    Barnum was a crafty negotiator.  He would always look at the possibilities a situation offered and attempted to capitalize.  He was revered by those around him. He treated his employees and businesses associates with the highest respect. 

    In the business world you need to be a great negotiator.  If you are fortunate enough to ride up the ladder of success, bring those who helped you along. There are few if any people who make it to the top without the help of others.  If you surround yourself with successful people you are more likely to be successful.

  • "He believed all was well."
    He lost personal property, his fortune, and his family. Regardless of personal circumstance Barnum always found a way to forge ahead.  His personal experience never left him with a chip on his shoulder.

    You aren't going to get your endeavor perfect the first time. Each attempt at success is a new opportunity to learn something and make improvements.  You might make several mistakes along the way but that is part of the journey. Don't be afraid to fail.

  • "He believed in the power of the written word."
    Barnum loved to write.  He used his word smith skills on the general public and with public officials.  To the very end he was dedicated to his writing.

    Apply the power of words to your web site.  Learn copywriting skills to deliver a powerful sales message your audience.  Some of the simplest web sites on the Internet are very successful because they make the most of their copy.  They compel their users to take some form of action with words.  You can't do much online without words.

  • "He believed in the power of speaking."
    Speaking was almost second nature to Barnum. "He knew that the spoken word could move mountains."  He used his speaking abilities to further just public causes, cultural learning, and his business.

    Public speaking is a great way to get the masses to visit your web site.  Your credibility will increase and you can establish yourself as an expert.  If you aren't comfortable speaking in public utilize a blog. Blogs allow you to get your message out to the masses from almost anywhere.  Blogs are also becoming a tool companies are using for product and service feedback and to create new products.

Source: Vitale, There's A Customer Born Every Minute, pp.11-16.

After you had an opportunity to review all of Barnum's Rings of Power get a pen and paper and come up with your own interpretations.  Sometimes the simplest ideas can lead our brains to discover completely new ideas.

Additional Resource:

Have you ever considered including some of P.T. Barnum’s concepts into your own event marketing and promotion?

Below you will find a small collection P. T. Barnum posts that will help you with promoting and marketing your event. There is at least one good idea waiting for you to use with your event.

Take the time to read through a few posts.


P.T. Barnum's Tenets of Super Effective Marketing (Part I)

Another one of my favorite historical business heroes is P.T. Barnum.  He was the greatest marketer on Earth during his lifetime. Like Thomas Edison, P.T. Barnum would be an Internet "Rock Star" if he lived today.The advice below has been proven and tested over the last 150+ years. Technology has changed, but the fundamentals remain the same!

In Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale's Book, There's A Customer Born Every Minute, he describes many of the techniques Barnum used to become the world's "King of Marketing."  Most of what Barnum learned about business and marketing happened, before he started his circus.  If you're an event promoter or event organizer, you're going to want to pay careful attention to Barnum's tenants. He achieved all this in a time without radio, television, or the Internet.

In Vitale's book, he outlines Barnum's "Rings of Power".  These "Rings" were the keys to Barnum's amazing business success.   These keys can be slightly reinterpreted and applied to most businesses and events.  Hopefully some of the suggestions below spark an idea or two.

P.T. Barnum's First Five "Rings of Power"

  • "He believed there was a customer born every minute."
    One of the largest misconceptions is that P.T. Barnum said "there is a sucker born every minute."  He never said that - you won't find it in any of his books, writings, or speeches.  Barnum virtuously believed that the world was his marketplace.

    Vitale points out that Barnum considered anyone with .25 cents in their pocket a potential customer.  Each day that goes by more and more people go online. You need to think well beyond your local market. If you are online your market is worldwide.  Use that massive audience to your advantage.  At the same time, don't be afraid to narrow down your target market. Less can actually be more.

  • "He believed in using skyrockets."
    People described Barnum as a master of public relations.  Barnum would push the limit to get huge public and media attention.  Pushing the limit often involved publicity stunts . . . Both P.T. Barnum and Thomas Edison used elephants to attract media attention.  In Edison's case, he executed Topsy the elephant.  Both men received an amazing amount of media attention because of their antics.  I don't condone their actions (Edison's animal cruelty), but there is something to be learned. Ultimately the public attention trickled down to the masses and created an amazing buzz.

    Is there something you can do to stand out from the crowd?  With every business trying to get consumer attention you need to be different. Try to be passively unique. Think of what will help you move to your audience's center of attention

  • "He believed in giving people more than their money's worth."
    Barnum traveled to the ends of Earth in order to find what fascinated people.  He would bring the most unique entertainment and awe inspiring artifacts to his audience. Regardless of what he thought was fascinating - his focus was always on his customer.

    The same analogy can be painted in regards to your event or web site.  When someone shows up to your site are you presenting them with high quality content? Few people are disappointed when your web site delivers what you promise. The same analogy applies to events - are you giving your patrons WHAT THEY WANT? (Not what you think they want - there's a HUGE difference.)

  • He fearlessly believed in the power of "printer's ink."
    Barnum knew how to get the most out of the media. Because of his ability to provide interesting and unique stories the media became Barnum's prized resource.

    Provide the public with unique stories on your web site.  Perhaps you can tell a compelling or powerful story to sell your product, service, or event. Are you getting the most out of your public relations campaign?  Regardless of how good the message . . . If nobody knows that you exist or why they should care - you'll never be noticed.

  • "He believed in persistent advertising."
    His use of free and paid advertising ensured that his marketing message was delivered around the world.

    You need to actively get your message out to the public. Harness the power of free advertising: high quality back links. In today's world you can use SEO and PPC campaigns to help get your message out.  Don't forget that positive word of mouth is still one of the best free forms of advertising. There are so many channels to get your message out today - don't leave any stones unturned.

Source: Vitale, There's A Customer Born Every Minute, pp.11-16.

Throughout his life Barnum keep to his systematic methodology.  This proved immensely successful. Anyone promoting their event or a business should carefully study P.T. Barnum.

Learn about Barnum's Next Five Rings of Power.

Have you ever considered including some of P.T. Barnum’s concepts into your own event marketing and promotion?

Below you will find a small collection P. T. Barnum posts that will help you with promoting and marketing your event. There is at least one good idea waiting for you to use with your event.

Take the time to read through a few posts.


Marketing with Stories

I finally made it to Vegas yesterday.  It is amazing how quickly one city in the middle of the desert can continue to grow.  Everywhere you look something new is being developed.

Today I find myself at Zion National Park, Utah.  The views are majestic and inspiring. 
During my hikes there were small historical placards with all sorts of interesting history and stories.  This reminds me of Seth Godin’s writing on the value of telling a good story. Whatever you do in life have a good story to go along with the experience.  The same methodology applies for web sites. If you are trying to sell a product or service online get the user engrossed via a good story. Create a story with words and pictures focusing on your target market.

One web site that does a great job of telling a compelling story with their product is Surefire.  Surefire sells some of the highest quality flashlights in the world.  Check out their web site and see how they use stories to sell their products.

Visit Surfire.com

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:


Choosing the Right Online Market

Yesterday I went out with one of my good friends for dinner.  We discussed possibilities for creating additional revenue streams. My friend is already doing well with one of his side businesses.  He's known as "The Gumball King!" The King wants to expand his empire with other business ideas.  As always I pushed my online agenda.  One thing I mentioned was that he needs to choose the right market before expanding his ambitions.

Ken McCarthy, an online marketing guru, makes an excellent point when it comes to choosing the right market.  Success for many online businesses comes down to one simple thing. Are you choosing the right market?  Mr. McCarthy stresses that the right market should also be an easy market.

Ken McCarthy's list for an easy market:

  1. Easy to reach
  2. They have a burning desire for what you have to offer
  3. Based on past behavior a willingness to spend money on what you have to offer

If your online market exemplifies the above characteristics you should be in for a much easier journey.  Too many people fail the day they start their online business because they choose the wrong market.

The most immediate example I can think of is the fast food industry. Millions of dollars have been spent to ensure my brain associates fast food with McDonald's.  Yes, there are a number of other companies.  But unless you have very deep pockets, it is going to be very difficult to compete with all the fast food chains that are already established.

Are you in an easy market?

Additional Resources:



Online Video Explosion

It seems like many people are jumping on the online video bandwagon.   With Google's recent purchase of YouTube more people are looking to integrate video in to their web site.  As with everything else in life, with every virtue comes a vice.  There are a number of things you should consider before using video on your web site.

Wilbur_small_1The virtuous side of video is that almost anyone can easily post their videos online.  In years past video production was a very expensive process.  Today people with camera phones are capturing video and quickly posting it online.  Video allows you to easily present messages in different ways.  A number of companies and organizations are pushing online video through their web sites.  You can show your users or potential consumers something that words might not always be able to convey.  Video also allows you to pass along sound and music with your imagery.  George Lucas, states it best: "sound and music are 50% of the entertainment in a movie."

How can video be a vice?  With so much video going online very little of it is high quality content.  The quality has nothing to do with how nice the video looks, but the quality of the information you convey.  The more time passes, the more low quality video makes it online.  How many times have you sat through a two minute video and found it to be a complete waste of time?

Use video responsibly.  If you are going to post video on your web site make sure it relates to what you are trying to convey on your site and to your target market.  Tease people with your videos.  There is a reason why movie trailers are only a minute or two long.  They want to get you wrapped up in something without boring you or giving too much away.  Many people forget to optimize their online video presentations. They'll post large files that take a while to download even with broadband connections.

Take a look at how YouTube.com presents video.  After you select a video to watch, featured video is presented in the main window with related videos (presented as static images) off to the right.  You don't want to overload your user with options. An example of information overload can be found at: http://www.dosomethingamazing.com/. The videos are nice but presented poorly.  They are task saturating the users as soon as the home page loads with sound and video.

Online video is here to stay. Make sure you use it tastefully and responsibly. One of the most important things to remember is because you can have video on your site doesn't mean you need to have video.  You can create highly effective messaging with words and pictures. Some of the most effective messaging comes courtesy of the written word.  Make sure you don't load your site up video just so you can say you have video.


Online Communication - Email and Telephone

Being able to contact a person or company is essential to any business.  It is the at the forefront of customer service. One particular deficiency that I notice on many web sites is they don't always make the contact info easy to find or upfront.  If you are doing business online, you need to make sure people can easily contact you. 

Most users will send an email before they call via telephone. Email is a quickest and easiest way to make contact, it's painless.  For some people email isn't enough.  You should always offer a telephone number where people can contact you or your business.  If someone is desperate for information or has a pressing issue it will come as a telephone call.  People call when there is a customer service or technical issue.

A great place to feature your contact information is on the home page, above the fold.  One standard location is in the mast head or header bar.  The contact info should be noticeable, yet discrete.  You can also feature a contact us page link in the navigation or footer of each page.  Doing so builds redundancy into the system and ensures people won't miss the information.  Make sure it is easy for the user to contact you.  It should be noted, based on the size of your company and privacy issues, you might not always want users to contact you directly.  In this case it is the company's discretion on what information to make public.

One particular hurdle that I find many users reacting to negatively is online contact forms.  Instead of allowing the user to contact a company directly they need to fill out a form.  I understand that the forms help companies deal with a multitude of inquiries.  But, in many cases having an email or telephone number available can resolve an issue much faster.

Communication is an essential part of any business.  You need to ensure people can quickly and easily get in contact with you.  Good contact information is essential to the user when making online purchases or the consideration of services. This also helps to build trust and credibility for your company.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

 


Web Centric Marketing and Marketing Leverage

The Ultimate Marketing Tool
I always find myself in a debate when I tell others that "Your web site is your most important marketing tool." That is a bold statement, and I believe it to be true.

Today, it is fairly rare to see or hear an advertisement that does not include a web site address. Is it easier to remember all the information that was given to you over the radio in 30 seconds or a simple web address?

No Commercial Interruptions
Remember, when people visit your web site their attention is focused 100% on you. There are no commercials to interrupt the "program," and most likely, they have chosen to view your site by choice. In radio and television, you are typically limited to a quick 30 to 60 second blurb.  Web sites are presented for the convenience of the user, not the convenience of the broadcaster.

Another advantage of your web site is that it is located in one place, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is available for anyone to view across the world 365 days a year.

Compare your web site to print advertising. If a piece of collateral material requires a change, you might run into significant revision costs. In most instances your online information only needs to be updated once and in only one place. Your web site also provides you with the ability to circulate information digitally. In some cases, this can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars annually on printing costs.

Traditional Advertising Is Still Important
But, don't forget that traditional advertising is still an important part of your marketing. Make sure you prominently display your web site address, so you customers always remember your address. You can have the greatest web site in the world. But if people don’t know the address, it is of little use to interested users.

Your web site is also a valuable customer service tool. It allows you to quickly collect feedback and respond in short order via email or other online tools.

Balance Online With Traditional Marketing
Web sites offer you a tremendous competitive advantage over traditional advertising
in both cost and the ability to update almost instantaneously.  Make sure you are maximizing your marketing through your web site. For all the advantages the web can offer, you still need to effectively and efficiently utilize traditional media to build awareness of your company and your web site.


Marketing via Voicemail

Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Away Message?

I am amazed how few businesses use their voice mail or phone system to market their web site.  Both systems are on 24-7.  Are you using your away message as an excellent opportunity to market your web site?

You can add the following to your phone message, "Visit our web site, whatever-site.com, for more information."  Use a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on your site to answer common questions.  Doing so, helps you avoid having to respond to very simple questions about your business or product.  When your web site answers your visitor's most common questions, you get more time to work on other things.

If you record your voicemail message, be sure to use a land line.  The sound quality of most cell phones and portable phones is not very good.  Record your message in the highest fidelity possible. Be sure the person recording your voice mail message does so in an appealing manner and tone.

Is your domain name short and easy to spell?  If your domain is difficult to spell or hard to remember, be sure people can find you through one of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, or MSN.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:


Web Page Statistics - "Hits" versus Visitors

"We had 180,000 hits on our web site last month!" - Unsavvy Business Person

Business people and web site owners trumpet the number of "hits" they receive on their web site all the time.  Hits are no longer a viable metric to measure web traffic. Companies that report hits are unintentionally misrepresenting the number of people coming to their web site.

Hits versus Visitors
Most people don't know the difference between hits and visitors.  There is a large difference between 100,000 hits and 2,000 visitors a month.  In some cases, they could be pulled from the same data and mean the same thing.  How you present the data makes a difference.

"Hits" and why they don't accurately portray site performance . . .

Hits are an indication of how many pieces of information load on a single page of your web site.  Specifically, how many individual images(a significant number on each page), Style Sheets, or text files, load on a each page of your site.

If a single visitor loads only your home page, it could register as 2 hits,34 hits, or 90 hits.  With 90 hits per page, a 100 visitors might fetch you 9000 hits or 2000 visitors get you 180,000 hits. Hits aren't a good metric to use.

A more accurate statistic to describe performance of your web site is the number of visitors or unique visitors. Visitors are the number of people coming to your web site.  Unique Visitors measure how many people visited over a set period of time.  "I had 3600 visitors to my web site this month!" The person saying that, knows their stuff!

Here's my anticlimatic close - Ultimately, it's not about Hits or Visitors . . . It's about getting the right traffic to your web site and getting them to take a specific action, regardless if that traffic is 100 or a 1,000,000 visitors per month.

Here are some Additional Resources:


Borat's Guide to Marketing

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) do not represent the views of this author.  I in no way condone his actions or beliefs.

Who's Borat?
(Warning: Borat is NOT Suitable for minors or people that are turned off by inappropriate humor!)

Now that we've established Borat as completely over the top and inappropriate . . .

I believe Borat's New Movie, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," will become the biggest dark horse comedy of the year for the North American Box Office.

What does Borat have to do with Internet Marketing?
In my opinion, Borat (Cohen) is a Internet Marketing Master.  He has taken a little known film and brought it into the mainstream.  It's been mainstreamed with an inexpensive video camera, a web site, video blogging, and social marketing.  He is achieving many of the same feats that Howard Stern accomplished in the 1980-1990s.  The biggest difference is that Borat is doing his marketing in a far shorter time frame, just a few months.