by Bob Nunn
I thought I had run out of ideas. Then I talked to a few folks and realized that there is a lot more to know about the web. While Ive covered a lot of the technical things you can do to get your site noticed, I havent discussed much about keeping people on your site and also about making your site more friendly.
Now you are starting to get traffic to your site, the next things are how do I keep them on my site, get them to spend more money, and how do I get them to help send more traffic to my site.
1. Give them something of interest to do.
Information is what the net is all about. Pick content that complements what you are doing and make it easy to read and navigate. Something as simple as providing a list of complementary site links will keep people on your site and coming back. Become a resource (build really good META tags on this material and get it listed). Dont forget the fun things either. http://headgap.com/fortune.spml
2. Give them a way to send what they find to their friends.
One of the best things that is becoming prevalent on the net is the ability to send the information from a site to a friend. This could be anything from sending the URL and a short message, to sending the article they are currently viewing. You are doing this, arent you?
3. Get visitor emails immediately
Give them a way to send your newsletter to their friends, not only on your site but in the newsletter as well. You must have a sign up spot prominently displayed on your web site.
Remember that listserver I mentioned last month? A listserver is a mailing list program that lets your customer subscribe and unsubscribe automatically. Make sure you manage your lists. While your list is small it is okay to keep them in one, but you really should attempt to split out the types of customers. If you take the time to segregate people who have purchased and people who have simply signed up on your site, then you can target your newsletters. That is one of the benefits of all this information and technology. Make sure you spend time planning and identifying potential groups and how you will address each group. When your list gets large, it really makes it easier on you to have them split. You can then spread out demand on your server and bandwidth by allowing your newsletters to trickle out over a few days. This in turn will allow you to spread out the demand on email responses, customer service, order processing etc. Why kill yourself and create a bad experience for a customer when you can just as easily put out smaller chunks. Just remember to cross check your lists for duplicates.
4. Dont be too slick.
Arent you sick to death of all the polish and gloss and color coordination? Doesnt it make you psychotic when you get to a site that has so many dancing banners and graphics you cant figure out what to do? Why does Yahoo keep their site so simple and why are they the number one portal/search engine? Have your mother navigate your site and keep your mouth shut long enough to watch and learn.
5. Be nice to AOL users, Mac users, people with really old machines, and all the other worthless people on the earth.
They probably make up the majority of your customer base. Techie types tend to look down on the uninitiated. Make sure you or your techies arent guilty of this. AOL in particular is a force to reckon with. It seems that the majority of people spending money on the net are AOL users (I dont like it but havent figured out a way to change it). I personally optimize my web layouts for 800x600. Most pro sites do also. I also go back and view the page in 640x480 and make sure people on older 14 monitors can not only navigate, but also that they can read the information. I use Mac equipment but also am keenly aware that most people dont. The Macs make text and graphics smaller and lighter than they appear on PCs. The point is, take time to view your site on multiple machines and monitor sizes. Also, remember people over 40 may have vision difficulties (and a lot dont want to admit it!). Even with vision correction, VERY small text is difficult to read, and any color against black is a nightmare. While it looks cool, it isnt the best combination for extensive reading. Dont make your graphics and text too small. Lets face it. How long will you stay on a site you cant see or read, or on a web site that you have to scroll two screens over to read? A good way to be consistent and help insure your site is viewable by the most people is to use style sheets optimized for your site traffic by browser.
6. Be nice to modem users.
Broadband is coming and will be great and big high quality graphics will really look cool, but who wants to wait 10 minutes for your page to load when they are using a modem. Again, you have to be realistic. Only a small percentage of folks are connected broadband. While it is changing rapidly, dont be a dope. If you view any of your pages and you cant hold your breath in the time it takes to load on a 28.8 modem connection, you have messed up. 30-50k is tops for a web page and all its graphics. Learn how to optimize your graphics or get someone who knows how. Make your pages as small as possible, but do keep in mind the customer has to make a buying decision from your graphics. Give them the option to see a larger view whenever possible. Many of us are beginning to make two sites, one for broadband users and one for dial up users, and this is becoming more prevalent on the net everyday. You dont want to neglect broadband and you can easily offer 3D product view, animations and movies as an option with a simple file size in k warning.
7. Be human!
That may sound strange, but most people despise being categorized or identified by an order number. While that is how you should be organizing your marketing data, you want to always think of ways to personalize and humanize your content. Get yourselves a spokesperson or make one up. Wendys Dave is a good example, but Colonel Sanders is easily identifiable as well. Spruce up your About Us page. Do you have pictures of your facilities and employees? Use them to give your site a more comfortable feel. People like to deal with people. Your site should also have contact information (including address and phone number) in easy to find locations and clearly marked. Dont you feel more confident when you buy something if you know where the guy lives?
8. USE A SPELLCHECKER.
Get someone to proofread as well. I frequently abbreviate and use improper grammar so I have someone with better skills proofread my stuff after Ive run it through the spellchecker. Selling allows you to do things like using Title in descriptions or ALL CAPS for special emphasis. Most of that type of thing is okay, just dont get crazy with it. However, some people on this earth know how to spell and they look down on folks who dont. You want them focusing on what you say, not the errors. Make the extra effort to get it right and make it easy to read.
Bob Nunn is owner, Operator Headgap Systems, http://headgap.com, http://tfbbs.com
Board Member, AppleCore of Memphis, Inc., http://memphisapplecore.com