Your homepage carries a heavy burden. It often holds brand strategies, corporate communications initiatives, and every marketing and sales message in your company.
A mailing list is the lifeblood of your online business. The old adage “the money is in the list” cannot be true enough — if you had a targeted list of prospects to contact each time you have a new product, you will be able to save a lot of effort by marketing it to your existing list of targeted prospects.
You can actually build up a targeted list of prospects that are interested in your products by offering a relevant download on your website. For example, let’s take a look at a very good example — apple.com. When you download the free iTunes and Quicktime software from their site, they will ask you to fill in an optional name and email form so that they can send you offers on songs that you can purchase via — guess where — iTunes!
In reality, you do not need to offer such a “heavyweight” download such as a full-feature software like iTunes. You can attract prospects equally well with some quality freebies such as a simple report, a free wallpaper, and so on. The important thing is that your download offers enough value for the prospect to be willing to give away his/her own email address to get it.
However, slapping together a simple download and putting a link on your website won’t be enough to attract qualified prospects. You will have to do some homework in order for your lead-generating mechanism to work well for you.
First of all, you must place your download form prominently on your website. Preferably, dedicate a page to it and link to that page from every other page of your website. That way, there is no way your visitors cannot find the download page, and when they do, you’ll get some of them converted into your prospects!
Also, you have to put a little effort into promoting your download. Explain and elaborate on the values of the download, and why your visitors should download it. You might think why would anyone want to pass on a freebie, but most of your visitors would be too lazy to take the effort to download it because most of their downloads just sit on the harddisk collecting virtual dust. It is hence important to show your visitors why they should download your freebie.
Normally, if you want to have professional designers custom build your site, you must be prepared to dish out at least a few hundred dollars. All this can change if you know where to find the best deals, the best designs for the lowest price. Here’s a rough guide:
First, you must understand that it is a rip off to get companies to design websites for you. Have you ever seen those advertisements in newspaper classified ad sections that offer a 5-page website at $500? These companies are established companies with physical locations, therefore they have to increase the amount they charge to pay off some overheads: office rent, designer’s wages, advertising costs and so on.
Therefore, it would be wise to find freelance designers who work from home. These people are often working from home so they do not have a high operation cost like that of a company. On the other hand, they will be able to design images with quality similar to those of designers from big companies, so it’s a “no-brainer” choice.
However, choose freelancers with care. The best way to do this would be to go to elance.com. There, you can post the abstract of your project and get thousands of freelancers to bid on your project, so you will surely get the best deal. On top of that, you will be able to choose the designers based on their experience, past transactions and ratings, so your value for money is secured.
Another route you can take is to design your website yourself. Think about it, if you only need 5 simple pages to present some simple information, why waste hundreds of dollars for it? Just spend a little time to sit down and do it yourself. You’ll be able to design your own sites even if you do not know a single line of HTML code with the help of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) programs such as Microsoft Frontpage, Macromedia Dreamweaver and so on.
A lot of successful websites depend on returning visitors to account for a major part of their traffic. Returning visitors are easier to convert into paying customers because the more often they return to a site, the more trust they have in that site. The credibility issue just melts away. Hence, keep your visitors coming back to your site with the following methods:
1) Start a forum, chatroom or shoutbox
When you start a forum, chatroom or shoutbox, you are providing your visitors a place to voice their opinions and interact with their peers — all of them are visitors of your site. As conversations build up, a sense of community will also follow and your visitors will come back to your site almost religiously every day.
2) Start a web log (blog)
Keep an online journal, or more commonly known as a blog, on your site and keep it updated with latest news about yourself. Human beings are curious creatures and they will keep their eyes glued to the monitor if you post fresh news frequently. You will also build up your credibility as you are proving to them that there is also a real life person behind the website.
3) Carry out polls or surveys
Polls and surveys are other forms of interaction that you should definitely consider adding to your site. They provide a quick way for visitors to voice their opinions and to get involved in your website. Be sure to publish polls or surveys that are strongly relevant to the target market of your website to keep them interested to find out about the results.
4) Hold puzzles, quizzes and games
Just imagine how many office workers procrastinate at work every day, and you will be able to gauge how many people will keep visiting your site if you provide a very interesting or addicting way of entertainment. You can also hold competitions to award the high score winner to keep people trying continuously to earn the prize.
5) Update frequently with fresh content
Update your site frequently with fresh content so that every time your visitors come back, they will have something to read on your site. This is the most widely known and most effective method of attracting returning visitors, but this is also the least carried out one because of the laziness of webmasters. No one will want to browse a site that looks the same over ten years, so keep your site updated with fresh bites!
Website templates are very affordable and they save you a lot of effort and time when you want to create a new layout for your website. However, a lot of people make mistakes in the process of choosing and using a web template and end up with something that was unlike the image they had in mind. Here are some guidelines to help you avoid those mistakes.
The first obvious mistake you should be aware of is using a template that is very popular. If many people use the same template, your website will not appear unique at all and your credibility as a solid, different website will be tarnished. In other words, you will appear generic just like your next-door neighbours.
To whole point of using a web template is to save time and effort. You just change the title and appropriate details and you’re done. The biggest mistake one makes is to customize the template beyond recognisation. While that may be good in the sense that you’re creating a unique graphic, you’re defying the very purpose of using a web template — saving time and effort.
However, on the opposite side, if a template you purchase is suitable but some changes must be made to suit your site’s theme, then you will have to take some time to make the changes. For example, you can find a very nice template that suits your hobby site except the original designer has put an image of stamps in the header. You can find images of garden plants and spades to replace the stamps for your gardening hobby site. However, do only make the necessary changes and don’t redesign the whole template.
In some circumstances, some people simply make the wrong choice of templates. This is a very subjective issue but you have to be careful in selecting templates to suit your audience. Do not choose templates just because they are pretty, choose them because they serve your purpose.
Convincing your prospects to purchase from you is a hard job, but have you ever thought that you’re making the process twice as difficult for both parties if your prospects are convinced but don’t know how to buy from you? No matter how good you are at convincing your prospects, they won’t buy if they find the process cumbersome.
First, you will want to check that people can find your order form easily and hassle-free. You can write a clear, concise paragraph to direct your prospects to your order form so that you can minimize the chances of them getting lost. You can also reduce the chances of losing prospects by putting a prominent link to your order page from every other page on your site.
Also, do you offer multiple payment options? Some people may feel comfortable paying via Paypal, some may only want to pay with their credit card and others might want to send a cheque. The more options you offer, the better your chances of covering your prospects’ desired payment method. After all, it wouldn’t make any sense to sell hard to a prospect only to find that they won’t be able to pay you when they want to.
On the other hand, you will want to prove that you are a credible merchant. Is your order form secured using encryption technology? You would want to look into SSL for this. You can also offer a money back guarantee so that people will feel confident about buying from you. How about after sales support? Who do they contact when they have problems after purchasing?
Alternatively, you can add customer testimonials, your contact information, address, and so on to boost your prospects’ confidence. Make them feel safe about buying something from you, a total stranger to them on the other end of the Internet.
As a conclusion, it would be very pitiful if you sold hard and sold well to a prospect and something goes wrong when he or she is ready to pay. Eliminate any chances of that to maximize your profits!