A successful website is pretty to look at, to be sure. But when potential customers browse your site, there should be minimal effort and time on their part to get to the goods and services that you offer. And when it comes time for them to buy, there should be no obstacles in their way as they head to checkout. They need ease of use. Your website must be clear and concise without being overly simplistic, because that in itself sends the wrong message. There must be substance.
We can break this down into bite-size pieces like this.
- Balance. Of course your site needs to have a clean, attractive design. The Internet is a visual medium and an ugly website is often the kiss of death. But the look and feel needs to have balance.
- Graphics That Do Not Distract. Nothing should take attention away from your marketing message. If your site is an online video game or movie promotion, of course it’s OK to have a full-blown Flash intro and loads of cutting-edge animations, but if you are marketing a more traditional product or service, you should avoid going overboard on the visual presentation. Avoid making your page so wide that visitors have to side scroll to read it all. It makes it sluggish and annoying, or worse, it makes you look like you don’t know anything about browsers.
- The 60-Second Rule. It’s safe to assume the average user will give your site a maximum of 60 seconds of their time unless you actively compel them to stay longer. For this reason, the area above the fold is the most important part of any page your visitor might land on. That refers to anything that is visible before your prospect has to scroll down the page. You should use this area to relay your most important message. You might leverage a well-crafted header graphic, a killer headline, or an audio greeting that plays as soon as the page is loaded to pull your visitor into your marketing message.
- Easy Navigation. Give your visitor clear navigational options so they don’t get lost. You can take this a step further by actually directing prospects where you want them to go.
- Quality Content! A strong and informative message is not only what your target market is looking for as they scour the Web in search of your product or service, it’s what the major search engines will use when ranking your site in the search results. It’s a great idea to present yourself or your company in a personal and inviting manner. Most people want to do business with other people, and not some nameless entity.
- Pre-Qualification. Your website should answer many of the common questions and overcome the most typical objections posed by your target market. When this is handled correctly, you are able to weed out potentially problematic customers and pull only the best-fit clients into your funnel of profit. This is obvious enough in the case of a direct response sales letter site. But even if your business is in the service arena (landscaping, home inspection, wedding planning, etc.), pre-qualification is a must. By providing detailed information on your scope of service, and even including a FAQ page on your site, you can begin the pre-sell product and “warm up” your prospects before a personal meeting or phone conversation ever takes place.
- A Lead Capture Device To Set The Stage For Follow-Up Marketing. Research shows the average prospect needs to see an offer up to seven times before deciding to take action. If you let a visitor leave your site without collecting their contact information for a follow-up campaign, it might be your competition that finally ends up closing the sale. –You might offer a monthly newsletter, an discount club subscription, a sample product, or a free course as the incentive for your prospects to opt-in to your mailing list. These are just a few examples. There are a slew of different ways to collect your visitors contact info in an ethical, mutually beneficial way. The key is to offer some real value in exchange for the subscription.
- Findability. It’s pretty hard to profit from a website that your target market can’t find. It takes a lot of active promotion to drive traffic to your site, and this should be viewed as an ongoing process.
While the above statement is abundantly obvious to website owners in the business opportunity niche, a lot of traditional business owners fall into the trap of thinking an active site will automatically be available to the citizens of cyberspace.
Article marketing, link building, blogging, e-zine ads, viral marketing strategies, displaying your domain in all of your offline advertising, and joint venture promotions are all examples of effective promotion strategies.
Make sure your site meets the entire above curriculum, and you will have yourself a great foundation for profitable web marketing.