Split-Testing : The Secret Weapon of Experienced Online Marketers

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Since the early 1900s, the best direct marketers have used some form of split-testing to improve their sales messages. Marketers like John Caples split-tested with coupon codes to tell which of a number of separate ads produced the best response, changing one item at a time until they found a winning formula. Split-testing is how direct marketers continually increase their profits over time.

With the ease of tracking on the Internet and the advent of low-cost or free software programs, split-testing is something that all online business owners should be implementing each month. It is an ongoing process.

What Is Split-Testing?

Split-testing is the process of creating two separate variations of anything that a visitor or a prospect is exposed to which requires them to take an action, such as a web page, a PPC ad or a banner ad. An action required for measuring a split-test can include the click-through-rate on a PPC ad, submitting a form to request a free consultation or purchasing a product online. Splitting traffic between the two variations of the same element shows you which one produces the best response rate.

Split-testing allows you to remove the guesswork from your marketing campaign by showing you the difference in response rates each variation produces. The first time that you design your web page and set up a PPC campaign, you’ll of course have to use your “best guess” and experience helps a lot here. However, once a page or an ad is activated and you start achieving results you can use split-testing to continually and incrementally improve these results over time.

Essentially, split-testing allows you to identify the combination of factors that produces the highest conversion rate and, in turn, the highest return on investment (ROI) from your advertising budget.

Why Is Split-Testing Important?

Split-testing is the fastest way to increase your conversion rate and lower your cost-per-action, which increases profitability. But more than this, it allows you to be more competitive in your marketplace by allowing you to spend more on advertising than your competition, yet still achieve higher levels of sales and growth at a lower Cost-Per-Action (CPA).

Split-testing also allows you to test what your competition is implementing on their site and to see how it affects your own conversion rates. Over time, split-testing allows you to capture a larger share of your online market.

Let’s Take A Look At The Numbers

Your competition is spending $2 per click and has a 1% conversion rate. That means it costs $200 to drive 100 website visitors. At a 1% conversion rate they are getting 2 conversions (ie sales or sales leads) for every $200, which means their CPA is $100 per action.

If through split-testing you were able to increase your conversion rate to 3% that means for the same $200 spend you would get the same website traffic, but instead of getting just 2 conversions, you would get 6. This means that your CPA is $33, rather than the $100 your competition is achieving…all from the same advertising budget.

What this really means is that you can afford to spend 3 x what your competition is spending and achieve the same CPA, which means that you will dominate the top positions on the search engines and capture the lion’s share of the online market. Convinced yet?

Conversely, if your competition is split-testing and you are not, they will get the lion’s share of the online market and you will miss out.

In the current economic climate, split-testing allows you to get the most out of your advertising budget and to continue growing your business during these tougher times.

What Should You Split-Test?

You should split-test anything shown to a visitor that requires an action. With PPC advertising you can split-test two separate ads and see which ad produces the lower CPA. With your website design you can split-test two separate pages and see which one produces the highest number of conversions. You can also split-test email campaigns, banner campaigns and other forms of paid advertising.

SEO listings (ie what displays in Google’s organic search) are harder to split-test because you don’t have full control over the information displayed in the listings. Saying that, you can split-test the page that prospects land on after they click on your SEO listing.

On your website, you should split-test the following items on your highest traffic web pages – which you can find through Google Analytics:

  • Headlines
  • Call to action
  • Offer
  • Sales copy
  • Images
  • Testimonials
  • Button styles
  • Navigation styles
  • Background color
  • Listing a phone number versus not listing a phone number
  • And anything else which holds a prominent position on the page

For your PPC campaign, you should split-test the text ads, keywords and landing pages.

How To Split-Test

The most important metric to measure with split-testing is the CPA, which is measured with conversion tracking. If you don’t have a website form or shopping cart and all your website leads come via telephone or email, it will be much harder to split-test.

The easiest way to split-test is to use a form on your website for somebody to submit whenever they wish to contact your company. When somebody submits that form, they are taken to another page that is call the “thank you” page, which contains a short message saying something like, “Thank you for your enquiry, we will contact you shortly.”

With split-testing, a conversion code is placed on the ‘thank you’ page which then measures the results. If we were split-testing two landing pages using different headlines we would use split-testing software to rotate between those 2 pages so alternate visitors would see alternate versions of the landing page. After a reasonable amount of visits and because conversions are being tracked, one of the two versions will start producing a higher number of conversions than the other. This is then the better landing page, also referred to as the ‘control piece’. The goal with split-testing is always to try and beat the control piece.

To justify that a split-test is statistically correct you need enough visitors and conversions to make an informed decision– as a general rule you will need a minimum of 30 conversions before you can make a decision on which of the variations is best. Note that The difference between the conversions of each version has to be greater than the square root of the sum to ensure statistical integrity.

Split-Testing Software

The best software to use, at the moment, for split-testing web pages is Google’s Website Optimizer, which is available for use free of charge. With this software, you can split-test one or more pages on your website at the same time. It is a very robust system, and the software actually tells you when you have found a ‘winning combination’.

It’s relatively simple to setup and although it can be a little confusing the first time, it quickly becomes very easy to use. Setting up a new split-test can take as little as 15 minutes (after the two variations of the page have been designed).

Split-testing of PPC ads can be done directly through the Adwords interface by setting up a variation of an ad within the campaign. Just make sure to edit the campaign settings and select the ‘rotate ads evenly’ rather than ‘optimise ads based on performance’. Importantly, you will need to activate conversion tracking within the console and add the conversion pixel to the ‘thank you’ page.

Split-testing other forms of marketing is done in a similar way to split-testing PPC ads, that is, managed from within the administration console of the advertising channel and tracked by adding a conversion pixel to the ‘thank you’ page.

Additional Tips for Split-Testing

  • You should always be split-testing : With split-testing you set up the test once and let it run for a few days, weeks or a month, depending on your level of traffic. We recommend that as a bare minimum you split-test all of your high traffic web pages and all your PPC campaigns at least once a month. This means that once a month you sit down and review the stats, stop the lower performing variations, and then setup another split-test to try to beat the control piece.
  • Track your split-tests : It’s important that you track the changes that are made so you don’t end up split-testing the same thing over and over again, ensuring that you’re continually moving forward. Track changes with a simple spreadsheet, with columns for what is being split-tested, the date and the results.
  • Watch what your competition is doing : Learn from them but don’t take what they are doing and implement it on your websites as is… split-test it and see if it improves conversions or not.
  • Only make one change at a time : If something is working, only make one change and split-test that – for example the headline. The exception to this is where something’s not working, then you can split-test two very different sets of ads or web pages and see which one produces results.

Remember that split-testing is the key to ongoing success; it is very low cost compared to the benefits you can achieve. In some of our recent split-tests we were able to increase the conversion rate of a website by more than 30% by improving the design and layout of the home page. And this took us less than one-day to implement. Imagine getting 30% more sales from your existing advertising budget…

Which Words Not To Include On Websites

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In a poll taken by more than 2,000 UK computer users, Internet words like ‘netiquette’, ‘blook’, and ‘wiki’ were found to be the most annoying and caused users to leave certain websites that included them. While you can’t possibly know all the words that are despised by the Internet community, you should pay close attention to the keywords and phrases that are being used most often so you can increase traffic to your website by including them in your content.

Choosing the right keywords to use in web page titles and headlines is one of the most difficult steps when creating a website because they are cues that tell visitors what to expect as they are reading your content. Using the wrong words can mean the difference between making a sale or losing one.

Use these suggestions below when choosing keywords for titles and headlines.

DON’T USE SLANG TERMS

Most people do not use slang terms when looking for information on the Internet, so they may not be an effective keyword. Including them in web page titles and headlines is not appropriate if you want a steady stream of visitors. Not only can slang be offensive, it will not reach a wide audience.

OVERUSING ONE KEYWORD

The most effective web pages have a keyword density of about 5%. Usually three or four keywords are used on one page. Only choose one keyword to use in the title and use other keywords in your headlines. By sprinkling keywords throughout, you will increase your chances of being found by web spiders. Too many keywords and your web site will be flagged as spam.

USE POPULAR KEYWORDS IN TITLES AND HEADLINES

When you research the keywords to use on your website, use the most popular ones in your titles and headlines. Web spiders typically look at these first when searching for matches. Include these keywords in your content as well so web spiders will know your site is a definite match.

UPDATE YOUR CONTENT

You should update your content with fresh keywords every month or so. Continue conducting keyword research so you will be able to include keywords that are popular on your site. Adding new content and updating titles and headlines will also keep returning customers interested in your website.

SEO is still one of the best ways to increase traffic to your site. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is through the use of keywords.

5 Reasons Why You Should Invest In Website Performance

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Investing in the performance of a website is usually the last thing most companies consider when deciding how they will invest their marketing budgets. Most companies allocate budgets to advertise their website using Google Adwords, SEO, online advertising, offline advertising and social media but few companies think about how important their website is to their overall success.

Your website is the single most important component of your online marketing strategy – it will literally make or break your success online. Here’s why…

1. Your Website Determines How Many Sales You Achieve From Your Advertising Budget

When you run advertising online, or offline for that matter, you’re driving prospects directly to your website. You might be spending $2,000 per month on advertising, or you might be spending $100,000. In either case, the number of sales you achieve from your advertising is directly related to the performance of your website.

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers… if your website converts 1% of website visitors into customers you will generate 10 new customers from 1,000 visitors. But if you can increase the performance of your website to convert 5% of website visitors, you’re generating 50 new customers from the same advertising budget, or 5x as many sales without spending a cent more on advertising.

Many companies we speak to are happy to spend $10,000 per month on advertising but baulk when we suggest investing $10,000 one-time on improving the performance of their website – this is one of the biggest mistakes a company can make… just take a look at the numbers.

2. Your Website Can Give You A Competitive Advantage

Your website’s conversion rate is one of the most powerful competitive advantages you can gain against your competition. If your website converts 5% of website visitors into sales, and your competitors are only converting 1% of website visitors into sales, you can spend 20% of your competitors’ budget and still achieve the same result.

When you look at how the majority of online advertising works these days, you’re paying a cost-per-click for prospects to visit your website. If you can convert website visitors at 5x the rate of your competition, you can pay 20% of their cost-per-click and still achieve the same cost-per-acquisition (CPA).

But that’s not what usually happens… what usually happens is that you pay 2x or 3x per click to completely outbid them online, gain maximum exposure and capture the majority of the available market share, and still pay a lower CPA than your competition.

3. Your Website Affects The Quality of Clients You Attract

The quality of the design, structure and layout of your website directly affects the quality of clients you attract – the higher the quality of your website, the higher the quality of clients you will attract.

Think about it… how many times have you visited a website and instantly made an assumption on the type of company it is, how expensive the products or services would be and whether or not you wanted to contact them, just by how it looked and felt.

I’ve often been surprised at just how much the design of a website can affect the quality of leads and sales a website receives. If you want to attract larger companies with larger budgets to your company, then you need a website that reflects what those companies expect to see from a website. On the other hand, if you’re selling cheap products or services, then you don’t want your website to look too expensive.

4. Your Website Affects How Much Facebook Traffic You Receive

Facebook is now one of the largest sources of website referral traffic after Google… and when you consider that more than 10 million Australian are on Facebook, it makes sense. But to really maximise the traffic you receive from Facebook it’s important to understand how it works.

Facebook users share content from around the web, with more than 2 billion posts ‘liked’ and commented on every day. To drive the maximum amount of traffic from Facebook your website needs to include information that people want to share with their social network. The best type of information to share is news, helpful information, photos, videos and any type of information that really adds value to the lives of the people that consume it.

By integrating Facebook sharing functionality, such as Facebook ‘Likes’ and soon-to-be-released ‘Gestures’, you will align your website with how people share content on Facebook thereby maximising the traffic you receive.

5. Your Website Directly Affects Your SEO Rankings

The better your website is optimised for SEO, the higher the rankings you will achieve. Updating the Title Tags, Meta Tags and internal linking can be implemented on any website, but gaining maximum SEO performance from a website requires developing the optimum website structure from the ground up.

The key to really maximising your SEO rankings is to create a different web page for every top level keyword you want to rank for. Doing this will mean that you have the keyword in the Title Tags, Meta Tags, URL structure, Headings and body copy… and it will be integrated naturally. You’ll also have a page for each keyword which makes it easier to rank for each keyword. And the more pages you have on your website, targeted to specific keywords, the more rankings you will achieve.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

After reading this article my hope is that you fully understand the role that your website plays in the performance of your success online… the only thing left is making the decision not ‘if’ but ‘when’ you will invest in your website.

If you’re on a limited budget and you’re running advertising campaigns, my recommendation would be to place those advertising campaigns on hold and divert that budget to upgrading your website. When your website is ready and you reactivate your campaigns you’ll see an immediate boost in the sales and profits you earn online.

If you’ve got more of a budget to play with (but not too much) but you need your advertising to stay running, my recommendation would be to divert some (not all) of your budget to upgrading your website.

And if you can afford to keep your advertising campaigns running and still invest in your website, then do so right away.

Your website holds the keys to your online success… the better if performs, the more money you make… period.

So what are you waiting for?

50 Reasons Why You Need A Website

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There are still people wondering whether their business really needs a website. Or they say: we do not have a business, but a not-for-profit organization: should we have a website? Definitely! I could easily come up with 50 reasons why you need a website:

1. Promote Your Products

A website allows you to showcase your products for everyone to see. You can explain the benefits, compare it with other products, or show testimonials of happy customers that already bought the product.

2. Promote Your Services

It is hard to showcase services in a store, or office. The web allows you to introduce the service, the professionals providing the service, and how several services can complement each other.

3. Promote Your Organization

People buy from people. People support organizations and causes that they believe in. A website is a fantastic tool to promote an organization and build trust – that is, if you do it right… A well-developed website can convey trust and credibility, making people to buy from you, or support you.

4. Promote Yourself

Whether you are a professional looking for a job, or an expert in your industry: you can show that to the whole world by having a comprehensive website. The use of an associated email address also increases perceived professionalism: a letter from someone at me-the-expert.com will certainly open more doors than an email from a hotmail account.

5. Promote Your Ideas

Political campaigns are now all over the web. A website can be a powerful way to promote your ideas, and build a following of like-minded people. Or you can just write online journals (“blogs”) to ventilate some of your thoughts and concerns.

6. Promote Your Events

Have a fundraising event? Want to promote your business with seminars, workshops or a tradeshow? You will increase awareness when you create a website for the event. Show dates, programs, prices and riving directions – to name but a few features that will be greatly appreciated by your target audience.

7. Sell Your Events

Want to take it a step further? You may even want to consider selling (or pre-ordering) tickets for your events on a website. Shorter line-ups, less expenses: it sounds like a good idea to me…

8. Sell Your Organization

Whether “selling your organization” is a figure of speech (to convince people) or a true selling effort, a website can be considered a very valuable asset to your organization.

9. Sell Your Services

A website can be a great tool to not only promote, but also actually sell your services. You can automate many repetitive tasks, such as registration, billing, collecting and much more. Whether you are selling phone services or speaking engagements: you can effectively do it with a website.

10. Sell Your Products

A few years ago, after all the dot-boms, people lost faith in e-commerce. Now e-commerce is booming. Gift moments like Christmas and Valentine’s Day show record sales numbers, and money-guzzling giants like Amazon are starting to make money. Offering a great user-experience and minding usability is the key to success.

11. Save Costs

By integrating systems and automating certain tasks you may be able to actually save costs. For instance, by integrating your e-commerce website into your inventory and accounting systems. Build extranets to connect with suppliers and clients alike. You can provide downloadable documents on a website rather than mailing them out. The opportunities are endless.

12. Build A Community

Want to be perceived as a leader? Want people talking about you, or provide a platform for people to share ideas and ideologies? A website, especially with a forum or bulletinboard, can be a great help in building an online community. It may even be the cement that keeps an offline community together, because of its empowering character and 24/7 availability.

13. Share Pictures, Sound And Other Files

I just watched wedding photos, I enjoy watching funny commercials from all over the world, I like listening to music – on a website. You can use it to share Media Kits, sound bites, or PowerPoint presentations. A website is a great tool to exchange multi-media.

14. Offer Service 365/24/7

This may not be of great value to you (it may even be a burden…), but to your customers it is very empowering and important. The Internet puts the web browser in control – and if you are not there, you will be more and more passed over in favour of an online competitor.

15. Answer Frequently Asked Questions

Answering the same questions over and over again can be a great waste of money and employee morale. A carefully crafted list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), posted on a website, can reduce the stream of repetitive questions so your Customer Support department can actually start supporting customers, and your Sales Department can really devote their time to selling!

16. Improve Branding

Branding is a way to differentiate your product, service or company from its competition, and create loyalty. The content of a website, its style and tools such as newsletters allow for many ways to differentiate yourself, make the visitor feel good about you, and build loyalty. More worrisome: if you do not do this, a competitor may snatch not only your prospects sales, but also their loyalty away from you with their website! Eat, or be eaten!

17. Reach A Local Market

More and more people use locally defined keywords in the search engines, which indicates that they use the Internet do find local information. “Used cars Toronto” or “Guelph real estate” are obvious, but mentioning a website in a local ad may do wonders in terms of converting a reader into a customer.

18. Reach A Regional Market

A website is one of the easiest tools to expand your exposure into a wider geographical area. Want to move your business from just Fergus into the whole of Ontario? A website allows you to do that.

19. Reach A National Market

Political campaigns are just one example where websites are being used to service a National audience. Offering a National specific version of your product, such as Tylenol.ca, is another one. This allows you to offer information about specific national tax and delivery charges, or appeal to National pride.

20. Reach A Global Market

If your target audience is “the world” then you really need a website. But you knew that already, didn’t you ;o)

21. Reach An International Market

If you target specific International markets it may be highly effective to design dedicated websites for them. By targeting your US customers on a “,com” site while servicing your Canadian clients with a “.ca” site you are able to cater to the specific needs and expectations. It allows you to avoid confusion by separating different currencies, taxes, fees and prices onto different websites. You may even want to consider offering websites in different languages, such as a specialized “.nl” website, in Dutch, for your loyal customers in The Netherlands.

22. Reach A Specialized Market

Do you sell cat and dog helmets? Are you into custom peptide synthesis (link opens in a new window), or other biotech products? Whatever niche market you may service, a website will expand your possibilities of promoting or selling your product or service – wherever in the world your prospects may be.

23. Test New Products And Services

With a little bit of help from search engines and directories, or by linking from high-traffic websites, you can create a new website to test new products or services. You may even keep quiet about the fact that you are behind this new product or service site. A dedicated website can prove to be a very valuable test case before fully launching your new success – or quietly taking it off the market again if the market is not quite ready yet ;o)

24. Solicit Feedback From Customers

A contact form on a website can provide you with a lot of valuable information from customers, prospects and other interested people. You may even get them to take an online poll – especially if you say they can win a prize as a reward. And if the stakes are high enough, the free word-of-mouth promotion will start automatically…

25. Start A Movement

Want the US Army out of Iraq? Want to preserve a local trail? A website is a most effective way to promote your viewpoint, recruit volunteers, build a community (by adding an online forum), make press releases available, and much, much more.

26. Spread Ideas

Even if you do not want to start a movement, a website allows you to share your views and ideas with like-minded people all over the globe. It also allows you to easily explain things by means of adding audio, video or animation to your website. It can be like having your own radio or TV station…

27. Educate

Online education can be very effective; more and more people are taking courses over the Internet. If you provide workshops, or complete courses, you may consider offering them online too.

28. Update Information Quickly

Catalogs have been around for a long time, and they still prove to be successful. Newspapers are still a popular way to find out what is going on in the world. They have one major disadvantage, though: you cannot update them very quickly. A website, however, allows you to make changes almost instantly.

29. A Sales Tool Outside The Office

Employees away from the office can be kept informed with a website. A new press release? A new price list? Newsworthy things happening in your industry? You can quickly post information like that on an Intranet, which is a website only available for your employees, so they can see it wherever and whenever they want. If you add features like a forum you are also able to facilitate 1-to-many communication between employees.

30. Integrate Supply Chains

By offering your clients online ordering you are able to integrate whole supply processes. You can offer them password-protected areas with their information, such as prices, year-to-date ordering information, and more. This can be considered additional customer service, but may also be forced upon you by powerful clients or suppliers.31. Reward Clients

By offering clients access to a website just for them, you can reward them for their loyalty. This website can for instance be used to offer specials, unique tips or other benefits. You can create an online club for Loyal Customers.

32. Run Contests

If you want to run a contest, a website may be a very viable solution. With a carefully chosen domain name it can foster word-of-mouth promotion (“tell a friend!”), you are able to track all the entries in an online database (without having to enter them manually), and you are able to promote it with links from other websites, or search engines.

33. Communicate With Your Target Audiences In Their Own Language

In 2003 I reviewed websites for the main candidates in the California Recall election, and was amazed to learn that so many websites did not have sections in Spanish – even though many Californian voters are Hispanic. Addressing your target audience in their native tongue will certainly improve your chances of success.

34. Inquiry Marketing: Be Found – Period!

A major advertising conference mentioned recently “advertising is dead”. Interruption marketing does not work as it used to, due to video on demand, TiVo, the Internet… The consumers are more and more difficult to reach. Instead, they are in control; they are searching – on the Internet. It is inquiry marketing. Search and be found, or fail to be found and lose the customer.

35. Improve Communication

Brochures and flyers only allow for a few lines of communication. A carefully crafted website can guide your clients, suppliers or employees through page after page of information. Another advantage is that you can add audio and video to these pages – something that paper communication tools cannot offer.

36. Change Communication From One-To-One Into One-To-Many

Conventional marketing tools allow you to promote or sell 1-on-1. A website can cater to many prospects at the same time. An effective website will also help you build a buzz: word-of-mouth promotion.

37. Share Basic Business Information

People use the Internet often trying to find quick answers to basic questions. What are your opening hours? Do you offer payment plans? What is your phone number or email address? These are the days of “Inquiry Marketing”; so get a website if you do not already have one, and make sure that people can actually find it in the search engines and directories.

38. PR Tool

A website can be a great PR tool. You can post Press Releases on it, or articles, or a complete Press Kit – with pictures, sound files, bios, and more! You can also start a forum or blog (an interactive type of online diary), which can be a great PR tool.

39. Expand Your Product OR Service Offerings – Exclusively Online

A website allows you to differentiate your product or service offerings. You may want to consider offering slightly different services online than you do offline, for instance to foster repeat visits, using it as a test market, or target different geographical areas than you do with your store or office.

40. Communicate With Audiences Worldwide

The world is your oyster – especially with a website, which allows you to communicate with audiences worldwide (as long as you both understand the same language). Geographical locations or time zones are no longer a problem with the 24/7 availability of a website.41. Cross-Sell

When it is busy in your store, not all visitors will be able to speak to one of your sales people. Opportunities to cross sell (“did you see that we also sell …”) are lost. But on a carefully constructed website you can make sure that people are exposed to other offers that may interest you. A classic example is Amazon.com, which is very successful with an automated suggestion feature (“Customers who bought this title also bought:…”).

42. Increase Customer Loyalty By Giving Them More Control

These are the times of inquiry marketing, and anything-on-demand. The customer wants to be in control, and websites are a perfect example of that. The customer decides what they want to see, and when, and if you do that right, you will have acquired a loyal customer.

43. F U N

Websites allow you to present your target audience with something fun. Flash animations as a quirky way to make a point or explain something, can build a lot of goodwill. Skilful copywriting can be used to solicit a wink and a smile from time to time. Sales is all about emotion, and websites allow you many ways to evoke these in a favourable way. But make sure that the FUN is appropriate, or else you will be evoking powerful negative emotions.

44. Family Sites

Many families are no longer in the same geographical area; they may even be spread over several countries… A website can be a great way to keep in contact. Share pictures, movies, stories on a website for all family members to see. Added benefit: you will have an email address @ yourname.com or .ca, so you will never have to change addresses again! (Not even in case you decide to witch Internet providers – for instance from sympatico to cogeco)

45. Make Life Easier

Websites can make you customer’s lives easier – and yours! Look at online banking, or ticket ordering. Whole new industries have emerged because people want to be able to do things themselves, from their home or office – because it is easier. So: what will make your customers’ lives easier?

46. Find Employees

A highly effective way to use a website is to use it as a recruitment tool. You can obviously use it to post vacancies, but you may also consider placing a more general invitation to send resumes. This way you may already know the right person for the job before a vacancy even occurs.

47. Pre-Ordering

A well-promoted product launch on a website allows you to take fully automated pre-orders. This is a great tool to supplement your sales force. You can have an online presentation, and shop, so that enthusiastic clients and prospects can pre-order immediately.

48. Build An Appetite

Pre-launch campaigns can be highly effective. Websites can be used to build the buzz, have a few teasers, a countdown clock, press releases and news about the ongoing campaign. You may even show a picture of just a tiny part of the new product: “can you guess what it is?”

49. Email Address Forever

Let’s say that your domain name is agoodname.com. Using email address you@agoodname.com is a good way to promote your website, because people will guess your website based on the email address. And if you keep your domain name indefinitely, you will have that email address indefinitely. No more sending of emails to your friends and business, stating that “you moved to another email service provider; can you please update your address book?”

50 Already?

50. Play With The Big Guys

Many small companies successfully take on the big Guys. Websites can be relatively inexpensive (compared to running a brick-and-mortar store), and with proper usability and search engine optimization your website can be as good as your larger competitors, or even better!

O.k. then; I will throw in a bonus: 10% Additional reasons!

51. Check You Out Anonymously

One of the things many people like about the Internet is that they can research anonymously. No pressure. This is why it is so important that you have a website that is easily found on the Internet – you cater to the preferences of your target audience.

52. Facilitate Knowledge Building

You can use a website to sell seminars or e-books, for people to learn from. You can create password-protected modules so people can learn online. You can build forums where people can exchange questions and answers. A website is an ideal tool to facilitate the exchange of knowledge.

53. Enhance Marketing Effectiveness

Success does not come from doing one thing right. What you need is a marketing mix, and a website can be a powerful ingredient. Mentioning a website in a radio, TV or print ad may just be the thing that wins people over – especially if the online experience feels similar to the offline communication.

54. People Expect It

By having a website you show the world that you are a viable business. Not having one makes you suspicious in the eyes of many prospects. It is silly but true: a website will enhance perceived professionalism.

55. Competition Forces You To(o)

Your competition will force you to get a website, if you do not already have one. Customers (especially the newer generations) will demand you have a website, and will pass you over if you do not have one. It is a matter of adjusting to shifting market conditions. And things will continue to shift, at an amazing speed – just look at how fast the Internet has become an integral part of our lives…

Conclusion

I am sure that at least one of these 55 reasons will apply to your situation. One last bit of advice: if you DO decide to have a website built: make sure that the designer has the right skills and knowledge to make your website as effective as possible. Good marketing and business advice, usability consulting and search engine optimization are just as important as great design skills. Your website should not only look great, it should be Easy to Find + Easy to Use.

Why You Need a Website

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Even if you’re not planning on selling online, a well-crafted site is essential for any business.

My business is very small, just me and two employees, and our product really can’t be sold online. Do I really need a website?

That’s a good question. In fact, it’s one of the most important and most frequently asked questions of the digital business age.

Back in 1998, which was decades ago in internet years, the future of e-commerce was anybody’s guess, but even the most negative futurists agreed that all the signs indicated that a large portion of future business revenues would be derived from online transactions or from offline transactions that were the result of online marketing efforts.

So should your business have a website, even if your business is small and sells products or services you don’t think can be sold online? Yes, if you have a business, you should have a website. No question. Without a doubt.

Also, don’t be so quick to dismiss your product as one that can’t be sold online. Nowadays, there’s very little that can’t be sold over the internet. More than 20 million shoppers are now online, purchasing everything from books to computers to cars to real estate to jet airplanes to natural gas to you name it. If you can imagine it, someone will figure out how to sell it online.

Let me clarify one point: I’m not saying you should put all your efforts into selling your wares over the internet, though if your product lends itself to easy online sales, you should certainly be considering it. The point to be made here is that you should at the very least have a presence on the web so that customers, potential employees, business partners and perhaps even investors can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the products or services you have to offer.

That said, it’s not enough that you just have a website. You must have a professional-looking site if you want to be taken seriously. Since many consumers now search for information online prior to making a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store, your site may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer. If your site looks like it was designed by a barrel of colorblind monkeys, your chance at making a good first impression will be lost.

One of the great things about the internet is that it has leveled the playing field when it comes to competing with the big boys. As mentioned, you have one shot at making a good first impression. With a well-designed site, your little operation can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company. The inverse is also true. I’ve seen many big company websites that were so badly designed and hard to navigate that they completely lacked professionalism and credibility. Good for you, too bad for them.

You also mention that yours is a small operation, but when it comes to benefiting from a website, size does not matter. I don’t care if you’re a one-man show or a 10,000-employee corporate giant; if you don’t have a website, you’re losing business to other companies that do.

Here’s the exception: It’s actually better to have no website at all than to have one that makes your business look bad. Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, “Hey, look, we take our business so seriously that we have created this wonderful site for our customers!” or it screams, “Hey, look, I let my 10-year-old nephew design my site. Good luck finding anything!”

Your website is an important part of your business. Make sure you treat it as such.

****Leave a comment below if you think you need a website****