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20 Website Mistakes That Cost Me Three Years And $22,000

"Learn from otherís mistakes," my Mom always advised me.Learn from mine, save three precious marketing years, tonsof frustration, energy, and come out way ahead of the game.Best of all, this will not create a loss of sales, as it did for me.

1. If you use a shopping cart, check if the zip code requestappears before the city and state on the order form. Mostcarts don't do this. Why is this important? Because ifordering is not easy, I mean real easy, for your buyers,they drop out in the process. Ordering should be aseffortless as possible for the purchaser.

If the zip code is before the city and state and is set todrop their city and state into the next two fieldsautomatically, it saves the purchaser's time. Believe it ornot, this one "little" item leaves a memory chip and theywill remember the experience in the future. Did you knowthat 60% of buyers opt-out and don't complete thetransaction because of the little things?

2. Do you have boxes or radial buttons that they need tocheck off in the ordering process? If you do, then go aheadand fill-in the checkmark "in" for them. Let them uncheck it ifthey do not want the choice you gave them. Again,making it easier to buy from you and reduce the chance ofthem leaving before completing the transaction.

If you have a questionnaire or survey form, check all the"yes" categories or one of the radial buttons for them sothey don't have to do the work. They will remember theexperience as "easy" and it will be imprinted in their minds forthe next purchase or experience with you.

3. Many people forget to set up the "error page" on theirweb site. Do not leave that to chance. Ask them questionson the error page so that you will know what occurred. Example:"Tell me how you saw this page please." Add your e-mailaddress. Hyperlink the address and spell out the fulladdress for those with different browsers. Make it easy forpeople to identify any errors on your web site so you canfix them quickly.

If you think that will never happen to you and that you havechecked your links repeatedly, it can still happen.Software has glitches and they happen to be the best of thebest. In addition, an error page is a great place to addother hyperlinked navigational bars (a list of the main areasof your web site). Also, offer an opportunity for them toenroll in your ezine here as well.

4. Omit the metaphors. Most adults do not have the time orthe patience to play games on the Internet. If your marketis teens, this is a different story. Teenagers will enjoythe entertainment.

If you offer an entertaining feature on your site, you willneed to carryout the theme throughout your site, otherwisethey will leave as soon as it stops. This has occurredquite often lately as professionals add video to their site(considered entertainment) and then the rest of the site isflat. They get a lot of hits to the video and then noresponse on the call to action that they have set up.

5. Please do not activate "under construction" pages. Waituntil the page is ready and then upload it. If you areusing FrontPage, you can remove it from the Navigationalsystem by right clicking on the page and turning it off.

6. Don't beat around the bush with your visitors. Make yourmessage so clear that even a ten year old will understandit. Make the language conversational -- easy English.

7. Make your "buy me" buttons "Amazon" blue. Backed by goodresearch, Amazon has trained millions of their visitors inthis color and in their design style. Use their success toyour advantage. Visit http://www.amazon.com to see what"Amazon" blue looks like.

8. Do you offer a search form on your site? You need to.Once again -- making it easy for your visitors to find theinformation they want quickly. Here is a tip that I learnedonly a few months ago that has paid big since. After all Ihave read and learned over the past 10 years, nothing wasevery mentioned about this. When someone searches forsomething and it is not found, set up a default-sellingpage.

Here are a few ideas on how to use the default page whentheir search comes up empty. Offer them a 10% coupon forsomething else, or for anything on your site. Tell themthis is a one-time offer (they will not know otherwise). Onthe other hand, you could provide a list of availablediscounts or offer them a choice of sections to proceed to.Do not let them get the "Can't find a match" message at anytime.

9. When collecting visitor information for your database, doit one step at a time. Do not try to do everything at once.If you offer an ezine, the first step is to ask for their e-mail address only. After they type that in, take them toanother page to answer questions.

Alternatively, you can send them an auto responder askingthem questions. Better yet, send them to a survey pageafter they have subscribed to your newsletter. You willenjoy an increase in subscribers and survey submissions.

10. If you use drop down menus for your states or countries,remove them. "Techies" like drop down menus, but visitorsdon't. Let the visitor type in their state and country. Itis ten times faster and much easier than looking through along list searching for a state and country. Even if theUnited States is at the top, it still makes the buyersearch.

11. The best way to give your visitors what they want is tokeep it simple. This is especially true for the landingpage of your web site. The landing page is your main orindex page.

What do you want your visitors to do when they reach yoursite? If they are there to subscribe to your ezine(electronic newsletter), send them to that page by givingthem that immediate option. Then send them to a page thatfocuses them on subscribing. Give them all the informationthey need to make a choice and to subscribe. If they arefirst-time visitors, where do they click first?

For example, if you are a coach, ask them if they want toknow more about coaching. If you are a virtual assistant(VA), send them to a page or two about what a VA does andhow you help your clients. After they get to the next page,give them choice of different areas where you can help themas a virtual assistant or a coach.

Walk them through the process in steps, "hold their hand" asyou lead them through all the things that you can do forthem. Create a walk-through easy-to-follow effect. It willpay off in profits.

12. Do not add any pages to the site that do not pertainto the visitors' reasons for coming to your site. People donot have time for irrelevant information.

13. You do not need an engineer or a web site designer todesign your website. In fact, while they would not like tohear this, you do not need them. They may do everythingright technically, but they do not know how to get people tostay at your site or buy from you.

Marketers know how to do that. While 98% of engineers andweb site designer claim they are marketers, less than 1%know anything about marketing. The truly rare commodity isa fantastic marketer who is savvy about web site design.

Building your site is just like building a house: without anarchitect who knows about layout, structure air flow, etc.,all you have is a construction company building the housefrom their sense of style, direction and beliefs.

Know where the advice is coming from and hire them only fortheir expertise. If you are reading an article on marketingon the Internet that was written by someone who is a website designer, a red flag should go up.

If you are talking with a marketer who does not have website design experience and you are looking for help inbuilding your web site, raise that flag again. The rareperson with the unique combination may be hard to find, butwe exist -- I designed my learning to be one of those rareones.

I have helped many people clean up their web site after theyhave worked with web designers and/or marketers. And trustme, the clean up is more time consuming than starting allover.

14. Don't make your buyer feel stupid while they are in theprocess of buying from you -- in the "cart" process.Internet service providers (ISPs and web site hosts) do thisfrequently. Just one example of this is when they ask theirnontechie buyers the option, "Choose your server"

The majority of their buyers have no idea what this means.They do not understand that you are asking if they want a Unix orWindows based system. Moreover, even these same buyers areasked in this manner, they still do not have any clue whatare the advantages or disadvantages of either one.

So, they feel stupid. You will lose more buyers withquestions like this. The buyer feels frustrated and 99% ofthe time leaves without buying. Look on your site, are youasking any questions that make the buyers or visitors feelstupid?

15. The most common place to click on any web page is thetop left-hand corner. Put the choice to go to the next pageor to pick the most popular page or product in thislocation. If the purpose of the page/site is different, youmay want to put the back and forward buttons there.

Don't put graphics, especially your logo, on the upper lefthand corner. This is prime real estate for your website.If you have a retail site, place your top-selling item inthis space or a drop down menu of three of the top sellingitems.

16. Answer the visitors' main questions in one easy-to-findand readable paragraph. Don't make the font too small toread and do not make it go across the page requiring thereader to scroll. I've seen young web site designers usesmall fonts on their website which wants to attract a marketthatís in their 40s and 50s. Fact, the older you get thebigger the font.

17. Don't talk down to your visitors. They are intelligentpeople who will not stand for it. They will leave and nevercome back. There is a difference in talking down andpresenting a conversational style. Talking down is likeexplaining it to your child; the other is like talking toanother adult. Technical people have a big tendency to talkdown to nontechnical people.

18. Make it easy for them to share their comments with you.Whether it is about a hyperlink that does not work or othererrors they have found. They may want to tell how much theyappreciated your information. Create a place on every pagewhere they can feel comfortable about submitting theircomments. Comfortable also means that they have a choiceon whether to send their contact information or not.

19. Organize your site from the visitors' point of view.If you are not sure, ask some typical visitors. "Whatquestions did they have when they landed on the first page?",is a great question to start. Get them to walk you throughtheir thinking. You will pick up some patterns after thefirst three or four. This is the best research you can doand it will save you years of revisions.

Do not ask family members or friends. Ask clients who havejust finished visiting your site. They are familiar visitorsand they will want something different from a new visitor.You need to set up your landing page to handle both familiarand new visitors without being confusing.

20. One of the most valuable pages in a web site that issadly overlooked is the "thank you" page. If someone signsup for your ezine or places an order, include a popup saying"thank you for visiting." Use whatever way you can thinksays it best, but don't leave it out. The other half of thisequation is not to loose the opportunity to cross sell orup sell on the thank you page.

First, say thank you and then give them an offer they cannotrefuse. On the thank you page, you can provide a coupon for10 percent off on anything in the store or 10 percent off on anyoverstocked or limited stock item.

Now that you have these tips on what mistakes not to make,you need to put them into practice. Choose three and startcompleting them. Then move on to the next three and keepmoving through the list. You will be excited of theresults.

Bonus Tip 1: 60% of the buyers opt out of purchasing aproduct on the Internet in between the first cart processingpage and the last page. It is usually because it took toomany clicks to complete the transaction or it took too muchtime to think about it or to make choices. Check your website and eliminate any obstacles or places that do this soyou can reduce this percentage on your web site.

Bonus Tip 2: If you have questions on your page, dividethem into categories and don't put them all on one page.Spread them out between pages. It looks easier and fasterto the person answering the questions. Give them anincentive to move from one page to the next and give themencouragement between the incentives.

Submitted by:

Catherine Franz

Catherine Franz, a Certified Professional Marketing &Writing Coach, specializes in product development, Internetwriting and marketing, nonfiction, training. Newslettersand articles available at: http://www.abundancecenter.comblog: http://abundance.blogs.com




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