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I Built my Website: Where are my visitors?
“Build it and they will come,” worked well as the theme in the movie “Field Of
Dreams” in which Kevin Costner turned a cornfield into a ballpark; they did come. But that was a tale. Nicely told, but still a tale. In real life, it just is not so.
Why does this notion persist?
In the early days of the Web, it was almost true, for there was a far greater
demand for information than supply. Thus if one put up some half-way decent content, some people did come. To whatever extent it was true back then, it is nothing but a myth now. If you built your site believing in this myth, you have a problem. Nobody is coming.
Can you change this? Maybe. In some cases, though, it may be best to
start over. Check out the following to see where you stand, then take it from
Why does the site exist? “To make a profit” is not sufficient. Exactly what is
the site expected to do? There are many good answers. For example: To
increase sales in my offline business. Or maybe: To grow an online business so that it becomes my full time job. And there are many others. But “To make a profit” doesn’t cut it.
How Do You Plan To Achieve This Goal?
You need a business plan of the same sort required in opening a store front on Main Street in your home town. This includes answering a host of questions, and preparing a statement sufficient to make your banker smile and reach for a pen when you ask for a loan. While you likely do not need a banker to open a website, you do need the same definitive plan required of any soon-to-be shopkeeper. Some of the questions you need to answer are:
What is my target market? The more narrowly you can focus, the more likely
you are to succeed. For example, instead of “Dog Lovers,” explore “Doberman
Lovers.” The narrower the focus, the easier it is to position yourself, and your
business, at the top of the heap.
How will I reach them?
Search engines and mutual links are very helpful. But your marketing strategy is usually the key. Again, the narrower your focus, the easier it is to target your promotional efforts, including advertising.
What products will I market?
(Please substitute services throughout, if that is what you will offer.) Note products you create will bring greater profits than those you market for others.
How will I position my products relative to the same or similar products?
If you have narrowed the focus sufficiently, it is much easier to position yourself above your competition. If you sell better products, this becomes easy.
How will I demonstrate a perceived value in my products greater than that of my competitors?
Perhaps by the special nature of the support you offer or your guarantees beyond those expected. Whatever, this must happen. How will I keep my customers coming back for more? This is fundamental, but simple. Satisfied customers will return, provided you have additional products of interest.
While questions as suggested above need to be answered in all cases, there
are others. More important, there are many specific to your particular business. The answers must guide every step so that it is in accord with the overall business plan. It is also important that no part of the plan conflict with another; all must lead interactively to the same goal.
How To Build Or Modify Your Site
To build or modify your site, all begins with the domain names and product names appropriate to your target. If you are not using names that clearly bring a focus and define a benefit, you may need to change them. In any case this will be the initial point of attack. Don’t doubt the importance of names. As to the site itself, begin with pencil and paper. Rough out the content for each page including the ad copy which sells a specific product, or opens the door to other pages featuring separate products which taken together are a single profit center. One reason for organizing in this way is that if it becomes necessary, you can drop a profit center from your site without having to rebuild the whole of it. Since people may enter your site through any page, each needs to sell the business and the product specific to the page. That is, each page must grab reader attention, raise their interest and draw them quickly more deeply into the page and thus into the site. At any point interest lags, you may lose the visitor. So it is important to sustain, even increase intensity, as the page continues.
There is simply no point in creating even a single website page until your plan
has been implemented on paper and the content for all pages …
1) Is properly targeted
2) Effectively positions both you and the product
3) Grabs and sustains reader interest.
Even if you have a good idea of how you want your pages to look, obtain the
help of an artist. A good one can indirectly provide powerful support by
enhancing the key points of your plan in the art work itself.
Once your site is up and has been submitted to the search engines, the real
task begins. Promotion. A never-ending task. But if your original plan is good,
and it is implemented in your site, you have greatly increased the likelihood your promotional efforts will pay off handsomely.
If you are among those who have built a site that is not working, or not working well enough, there are really only two options. Build a plan as suggested above, with your present site in mind. If you can find ways to modify and expand your site to fit the needs of a good plan, go for it. But if you can’t, the only viable option is to start over. I hate to admit it, but both my first and second tries were a total disaster, and have long since vanished. Ask others now successful, and you will find they have been down this road. But all was not in vain. Think of how much more you know about the Web now. How much you know about putting a site together. And maintaining it. Hey, you’re way ahead of another starting his first site. Take the time to build a good plan and a site to match, and you’ll soon be right where you want to be: On top!
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